Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

Nichols colloquium

October 8, 2020

The 2020-2021 colloquium series kicks off this coming Monday, October 12, with a talk by Johanna Nichols (UC Berkeley), held via Zoom. The talk is entitled Proper measurement of linguistic complexity (and why it matters), and the abstract is as follows:

Hypotheses involving linguistic complexity generate interesting research in a variety of subfields – typology, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, cognition, neurolinguistics, language processing, and others. Good measures of complexity in various linguistic domains are essential, then, but we have very few and those are mostly single-feature (chiefly size of phoneme inventory and morphemes per word in text).
In other ways as well what we have is not up to the task. The kind of complexity that is favored by certain sociolinguistic factors is not what is usually surveyed in studies invoking the sociolinguistic work. Phonological and morphological complexity are very strongly inversely correlated and form opposite worldwide frequency clines, yet surveys of just one or the other, or both lumped together, are used to support cross-linguistic generalizations about the distribution of complexity writ large. Complexity of derivation, syntax, and lexicon is largely unexplored. Measuring the complexity of polysynthetic languages in the right terms has not been seriously addressed.
This paper proposes a tripartite metric---enumerative, transparency-based, and relational---using a set of different assays across different parts of the grammar and lexicon, that addresses these problems and should help increase the grammatical sophistication of complexity-based hypotheses and choice of targets for computational extraction of complexity levels from corpora. Meeting current expectations of sustainability and replicability, the set is reusable, revealing, reasonably granular, and (at least mostly) amenable to computational implementation. I demonstrate its usefulness to typology and historical linguistics with some cross-linguistic and within-family surveys.

Hyman chapter on prosodic domains in Lusoga

September 9, 2020

Congratulations (again!) to Larry Hyman, whose chapter "In search of prosodic domains in Lusoga" has appeared in the (open access) book Syntactic architecture and its consequences, vol. 1: Syntax inside the grammar (2020), edited by András Bárány, Theresa Biberauer, Jamie Douglas, and Sten Vikner.

Hyman in Festschrift for Akinbiyi Akinlabi

September 7, 2020

Congratulations to Larry Hyman, whose chapter "Possessive tone in Tswefap (Bamileke): Paradigmatic or derivational?" has appeared in African Languages in Time and Space: A Festschrift in Honour of Professor Akinbiyi Akinlabi (2020), edited by Eno-Abasi Urua, Francis Egbokhare, Oluseye Adesola, and Harrison Adeniyi.

Phorum Archive

Past Phorum talks can be found here:










Cibelli publishes in Second Language Research

May 12, 2020

A new article has been published based on Emily Cibelli's 2015 Berkeley dissertation. Congrats, Emily!

Cibelli, E. (2020). Articulatory and perceptual cues to non-native phoneme perception: Cross-modal training for early learners. Second Language Research.

Rumor also has it that Dr. Cibelli is moving back to the Bay Area.

Zymet's research presented at FASL 29

May 11, 2020

This weekend at FASL 29, Peter Jurgec (University of Toronto) presented his joint experimental work with Jesse Zymet in a talk entitled "Lexical propensities of Slovenian palatalizing suffixes are learned." Click here for the slides. Jesse adds:

The central results are on slides 20/21 & 29 (those are suffixes on the x-axis). They suggest that Slovenian language learners track triggering rates of palatalization that are specific to individual suffixes.