Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

Beguš speaks at Yale

September 27, 2022

On October 3, Gašper Beguš will be giving a colloquium talk at the Yale University Department of Linguistics titled "Deep Phonology: Modeling language from raw acoustic data in a fully unsupervised manner." More information is available here.


The Berkeley Phonetics, Phonology and Psycholinguistics Forum ("Phorum") is a weekly talk and discussion series featuring presentations on all aspects of phonology, phonetics and psycholinguistics. We meet on Fridays from 3 to 4:30 pm. Phorum is organized by Katie Russell and Maks Dąbkowski. Our emails are respectively "katherine.russell" and "dabkowski"

Fall 2022 Schedule September 2

CJ Brickhouse (Stanford): Revisiting California’s apparent low-back merger: a lot of thoughts about LOT and THOUGHT...

Pfiffner colloquium

September 26, 2022

The 2022-2023 colloquium series continues on Monday, October 3, with a talk by our very own Alexandra Pfiffner, taking place in Dwinelle 370 and synchronously via Zoom (passcode: lxcolloq) from 3:10-5pm. Her talk is entitled "Features, cues, and phonological contrast: A look at plosive voicing in Afrikaans," and the abstract is as follows:

Phonological voicing in obstruents is signaled by numerous acoustic cues, both spectral and temporal. Voicing contrasts have been featurally described as [±voice], [±spread glottis], fortis versus lenis, or a combination of features such as [±spread] and [±slack] vocal folds, depending on the cues utilized in a particular language. The problem that arises is that describing obstruent voicing contrasts with only cues or features, to the exclusion of the other, misses larger cross-linguistic patterns.

In this talk, I examine plosive voicing contrasts and positional neutralization in Afrikaans. Using data from perception and production experiments with native speakers, I show that acoustic cues (that are not necessarily linked to the definition of a distinctive feature) are integral to the realization of phonological contrast. To account for this data and unite the two views on describing voicing contrasts, I propose a new framework of cue-based features.

Modeling speech recognition and synthesis simultaneously: Encoding and decoding lexical and sublexical semantic information into speech with no direct access to speech data

Gašper Beguš
Alan Zhou

Human speakers encode information into raw speech which is then decoded by the listeners. This complex relationship between encoding (production) and decoding (perception) is often modeled separately. Here, we test how encoding and decoding of lexical semantic information can emerge automatically from raw speech in unsupervised generative deep convolutional networks that combine the production and perception principles of speech. We introduce, to our knowledge, the most challenging objective in unsupervised lexical learning: a network that must learn unique representations for...

The phonology of Guébie

Hannah Sande

Guébie is an Eastern Kru language spoken by about 7000 people in the Gagnoa prefecture of Côte d’Ivoire. This paper provides an overview of the phonology of Guébie, including the complex tone system with four contrastive pitch heights, multiple types of vowel harmony, reduplication in multiple morphosyntactic contexts, CVCV/CCV alternations, and the phonotactic behaviour of implosives as sonorant-like rather than obstruent-like. Comparisons with other Kru and West African languages are made along the way.

Morphologically conditioned phonology with two triggers

Hannah Sande

Morphologically conditioned phonology, where a particular phonological alternation or requirement holds only for a subset of lexical items or in a subset of morphological contexts, is well documented. This paper expands on the literature by examining phonological alternations where two independent triggering morphemes must both be present for a phonological alternation to apply. Several cases of doubly morphologically conditioned phonological alternations, from a diverse set of languages, are described. The existence of morphologically conditioned phonology with two triggers informs our...

A unified account of conditioned phonological alternations: Evidence from Guébie

Hannah Sande

This article expands on cophonologies by phase, a model of the interface between morphology and phonology, which was introduced in Sande & Jenks 2018. The crucial innovation of cophonologies by phase is the enhancement of lexical or vocabulary items to include morpheme-specific constraint weights. These weights modify the default phonological grammar of the language only in the domain of evaluation that contains the triggering morpheme, where domains are determined by syntactic phase boundaries. The interactions of the default grammar and morpheme-specific constraint weights function...

Phonologically determined nominal concord as post-syntactic: Evidence from Guébie

Hannah Sande

This paper brings novel data to bear on whether nominal concord relationships are formed in the narrow syntax or post-syntactically. In Guébie, a Kru language spoken in Côte d’Ivoire, nominal concord marking on non-human pronouns and adjectives is determined not by syntactic or semantic features of the concord-triggering noun, but by the phonological form of the noun. Specifically, concord marking on pronouns and adjectives surfaces as a vowel with the same backness features as the vowels of the head noun. Assuming that syntax is phonology-free (Pullum & Zwicky 1986, 1988), the fact...

Toward understanding the communication in sperm whales

J. Andreas
Gašper Beguš
M. Bronstein
R. Diamant
D. Delaney
S. Gero
S. Goldwasser
D. Gruber
S. de Haas
P. Malkin
N. Pavlov
R. Payne
G. Petri
D. Rus
P. Sharma
D. Tchernov
P. Tønnesen
A. Torralba
D. Vogt
R. Wood

Machine learning has been advancing dramatically over the past decade. Most strides are human-based applications due to the availability of large-scale datasets; however, opportunities are ripe to apply this technology to more deeply understand non-human communication. We detail a scientific roadmap for advancing the understanding of communication of whales that can be built further upon as a template to decipher other forms of animal and non-human communication. Sperm whales, with their highly developed neuroanatomical features, cognitive abilities, social structures, and discrete...