2021 Events


December 3rd, 2021

Matthew Gordon (University of California, Santa Barbara) – The interaction between lexical and intonational tones in the resolution of tonal crowding

 Languages tend to avoid crowding of phonological tones. Various strategies to mitigate tonal crowding are observed cross-linguistically, including temporal shifting of tones, phonetic rescaling of tone targets, durational expansion of the segmental backdrop for tones, and tone replacement or deletion. These strategies are observed for both lexical and intonational tones and for tones with either matched (i.e. H + H, L + L) or opposed phonological values (i.e. H + L, L + H). Drawing on a combination of typological patterns and case studies of three languages (two Muskogean languages, Chickasaw and Koasati, and a Tukanoan language, Kubeo), this talk will examine the typology of responses to tonal crowding between lexical and intonational tones, building on recent work by Gussenhoven (2018) on the interaction between boundary tones and other tones.  Results indicate a variety of mechanisms for coping with tonal crowding, where the source of tones and their level is largely predictive of resolution strategies.

Find out more about the speaker: http://gordon.faculty.linguistics.ucsb.edu


November 19th, 2021 – 3:00PM MDT

Fangfang Li (University of Lethbridge) – Speech development in children enrolled in second language education programs: The case of French immersion and Mandarin-English bilingual schools in Alberta

In this talk, I will present preliminary data from a large-scale collaborative project on second language learning in two second language programs in Alberta: French immersion programs in Lethbridge and Chinese-English bilingual programs in Edmonton. Documentation of French immersion students’ pronunciation has been limited, impressionistic, and outdated. Those on Mandarin-English bilingual schools are even more scarce. The project aims to fill these gaps by profiling the phonetic and phonological development of children in grade 1, 3, and 5 in these two programs. The results will be discussed with respect to their theoretical and empirical implications.

Find out more about the speaker: https://people.uleth.ca/~fangfang.li/

November 6th, 2021

BrettC Nelson – Does that sound round to you? Generalized posterioization of English alveolars before approximants

English alveolar obstruents /t d s/ are wildly unstable in that their surface forms are rarely [t d s]. This paper focuses on the respective palatoalveolar set of surface forms [tʃ dʒ ʃ]. While many speakers produce these allophones in onsets before /ɹ/ (1) (Smith, et al., 2019), a smaller set of North American speakers, most notably near New York City and Montréal, also produce them before [w] (2) (Nelson & Flynn, 2021).

1) a. betray /bitɹeɪ/ → [bɪ.ˈtʃɹeɪ]

b. drone /dɹoʊn/ → [dʒɹoʊn]

c. sri* /ʃri/ → [ʃri] (*/sr/ is not permitted in English)

2) a. between /bitwin/ → [bɪ.ˈtʃwin]

b. Dwayne /dweɪn/ → [dʒweɪn]

c. swing /swiŋ/ → [ʃwiŋ]

This paper analyzes this phonological process as a case of reanalysis of enhancement cues and phonological features (Keyser & Stevens, 2006). In typical English pronunciation, lip rounding enhances [-anterior] consonants including /tʃ dʒ ʃ/. I therefore claim that these speakers have reinterpreted the phonetic rounding cue spread by rhotic and labio-velar approximants as indicating the phonological feature [-anterior] in preceding obstruents.

Thus, when these speakers produce a sequence of [+anterior] /t d s/ before rounded approximants /w ɹ/, they apply a phonological change (Bach & Harms, 1972) of [+anterior] to [-anterior], so that the rounding enhancement cue matches the surface representation. In English, this additionally forces the features [+strident] and [+distributed], as all English posterior obstruents carry these features, resulting in surface allophones [tʃ dʒ ʃ].

Bach, E. & Harms, R. T. (1972). How do languages get crazy rules? In R. P. Stockwell, & R. K. S. Macaulay (Eds.), Linguistic Change and Generative Theory (pp. 1-21). Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 

Keyser, S. E., & Stevens, K. N. (2006). Enhancement and overlap in the speech chain. Language 82(1), 33-63. 

Nelson, B. C., & Flynn, D.F. (2021). “Chrump’s on Chwitter”? A first look at expanding affrication of English /t/ [Conference presentation]. 2021 Canadian Linguistic Association Annual Meeting, Virtual. 

Smith, B. J., Mielke, J., Magloughlin, L., & Wilbanks, E. (2019). Sound change and coarticulatory variability involving English /ɹ/. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 4(1), 63:1-51. https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.650

Olanrewaju Charles Boyede – Compounding in Úwù

This paper examines compounding in Úwù, one the Benue-Congo languages spoken in a small community known as Àyèré in Ijùmú Local Government Area of the Kogi state in Nigeria.[1] Of the studies on Úwù and other neighbouring languages,[2-5] only a few exist on the morphology of the languages.[5-7] Compounding, the focus of this paper, is one of the prevalent morphological processes used productively to create new words from the existing ones in Úwù. Compound words produced in stories by three native speakers are examined. These were collected in 2017 as part of a larger documentation project. Many compound words in Úwù are endocentric (1). Some have a linking (bound) morpheme (2-3), which is not found in any of the neighbouring languages. No tonal alternations are observed, but vowel (and tonal) deletion is observed when the resulting compound has two adjacent vowels (1-3). Finally, the most common compound construction is that of noun + noun (2-3), where we typically observe a linking morpheme.

(1) E.g., /ʃe/ ‘to eat’ + /ԑna͂/ ‘meat’ = /ʃԑnã/ ‘to eat meat’

(2) E.g., /àʤá/ ‘house’ + /-ni-/ + /àʤᴐ̀/ ‘work’ = /àʤánàʤᴐ̀/ ‘office’

(3) E.g., /oŋgu/ ‘wood’ + /-ni-/ + /úná/ ‘fire’ = /oŋgunúná/ ‘firewood’

  1. Blench, R. (2007). Àyèré and Àhàn Languages of Central Nigeria and their Affinities. Wordlist Circulated for Comment. Cambridge University Press.
  2. Bamigboye, G.A. (1987). Noun Phrase of Àyèré. M.A Thesis. University of Ilorin.
  3. Abiodun, M. A. (2007). Àhàn and Àyèré: Two Endangered Nigerian Languages, in Festschrift in Honour of Ezikeojidu, edited by J.I Okonkwo, pp. 40-51. Aba: Faculty of Arts, Imo State University.
  4. Allison, I. O. (2017). Vowel Deletion and Insertion in Úwù. Journal of Languages and Education, 3(2), 19-29.
  5. Boyede C.O. (2018). Affixation in Úwù Language. Global Journal of Human-Social Science: Linguistics & Education, 18(11).
  6. Abiodun, M.A., Adeoye J.A & Allison I.O. (2018). Genitive Construction in Àhàn and Àyèré World Scientific News 99 (2018) 235-243
  7. Ogunmodimu, M. D. (2015). A Grammar of Àhàn. PhD Thesis. Tulane University

Quinn Goddard – You and Me in Blackfoot's Obviation System

Algonquian languages feature a typologically rare phenomenon known as OBVIATION, in which one DP is marked as PROXIMATE (with suffix -wa) and all other DPs are marked as OBVIATIVE (with suffix -yi). This contrast is frequently characterized as a means of tracking reference (e.g. Frantz, 2009; Goddard, 1984), empathy (e.g. Dahlstrom, 1991), point of view (e.g. Mühlbauer, 2008), and/or topicality (e.g. Genee, 2009). Since most languages only mark third person DPs for obviation, it has largely been described purely as a way of differentiating third persons. However, Blackfoot is unique in marking local (i.e. first and second person) pronouns for obviation, which raises the following question: if obviation truly tracks reference, should we not expect it to track an entity regardless of the person specification of the realizing DP?

Employing both fieldwork and a corpus study, the present study found that local pronouns in Blackfoot denoting SUBJECTS received PROXIMATE morphology while those denoting NON- SUBJECTS received OBVIATIVE morphology. Crucially, in cases of narrative direct speech where a speaker referred to themselves or their addressee, local pronouns often displayed different obviation markings than their co-referring third person DPs. This suggests that obviation marking on local pronouns tracks subjecthood rather than reference.

Dahlstrom, A. (1991). Plains Cree Morphosyntax. New York: Garland Pub.

Frantz, D. (2009). Blackfoot Grammar (2nd ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Genee, I. (2009). What’s in a morpheme? Obviation morphology in Blackfoot. Linguistics, 47(4), 913-944. Retrieved from doi:10.1515/LING.2009.032

Goddard, I. (1984). The Obviative in Fox Narrative Discourse. In William Cowan (ed) Papers of the Fifteenth Algonquian Conference. (pp. 273-286). Ottawa: Carleton University.

 Mühlbauer, J. (2008). kâ-yôskâtahk ôma nêhiyawêwin: The representation of intentionality in Plains Cree (unpublished Doctoral dissertation). University of British Columbia: Vancouver.

Andrés Giudice – Yeísmo and conservation of the ʎ/ʝ distinction in Peru

Yeísmo is the merger of the sounds /ʎ/ (as in Italian “aglio”, less closely English “will you”, spelt <ll> in Spanish) and /ʝ/ (similar to “yell”, spelt <y>) in the Spanish language. Yeísmo and the distinction between the two sounds have been considered important regional markers by dialectologists when dividing Spanish into geographical variants. While yeísmo is now dominant in Spanish worldwide, there are regions of the Spanish-speaking world which conserve the distinction between /ʎ/ and /ʝ/. In Peru, the distinction between /ʎ/ and /ʝ/ is now fluctuating toward yeísmo.

This research consists of two components: A literature search that serves as background, and a corpus study focused on the department of Arequipa in southern Peru. The goal of the corpus study is to discover the current state of the ʎ/ʝ distinction in the region of Arequipa from a geographical perspective by sampling speech from speakers on videos found on the Internet that are associated to each province of the region, counting how many times speakers produce [ʎ], and producing average measurements of yeísmo by province.

Cano Aguilar, Rafael. 2004. Cambios en la fonología del español durante los siglos XVI y XVII. In Cano
Aguilar, Rafael (coord.) Historia de la lengua española, 825-857. Barcelona: Editorial Ariel, S.A.

Caravedo, Rocío. 2013. Yeísmo y distinción en el contexto social peruano. Reexamen de la cuestión. In Gómez, Rosario and Isabel Molina Martos (Eds.) Variación yeísta en el mundo hispánico, 257-294. Madrid: Iberoamericana

De la Puente-Schubeck, Elsa. 1989. Debilitamiento del lleísmo en la región andina del Perú. Lexis, 13(2), 251-262.

Escobar, Alberto. 1978. Variaciones sociolingüísticas del castellano en el Perú. Lima: IEP ediciones

Lipski, John. 1996. El Español de América. Fuenlabrada (Madrid): Cátedra

Moreno Fernández, Francisco. 2004. Cambios vivos en el plano fónico del español: variación dialectal y sociolingüística. In Cano, Rafael (coord.) Historia de la lengua española, 973-1009. Barcelona: Editorial Ariel, S.A.

Navarro Tomás, Tomás. 1968. Manual de Pronunciación Española. Madrid: Gráficas Monteverde

Wölck, Wolfang. 1972. Las lenguas mayores del Perú y sus hablantes. In Escobar, Alberto (compiler) El reto del multilingüismo en el Perú, 189-216. Lima: IEP ediciones

Tanna Butlin & Stephen Winters – Lip Rounding and the Enhancement of Fricative Distinctions in Canadian English

Stevens and Keyser’s Enhancement Theory (1989) holds that phonemic contrasts are communicated through primary features that may be enhanced through additional gestures. A classic example is that of [s] and [ʃ] in English, which are distinguished by the feature [anterior]. However, the [ʃ] in English is also typically produced with lip-rounding, which Stevens and Keyser (2006) argue makes the two sounds more acoustically distinct. Stevens and Keyser cite consonant confusion data from Miller and Nicely (1955), which shows that [s] and [ʃ] are unlikely to be confused; however, it is unknown how distinct they are without the secondary lip-rounding gesture on [ʃ]. It is also unknown how much lip-rounding could further enhance other fricative distinctions, such as between [f] and [θ], which are consistently one of the most difficult English consonant pairs to differentiate.

We will present initial plans for an audio-visual perception experiment to test the confusion of rounded and unrounded [f], [θ], [s], and [ʃ], and to quantify how much the addition of lip-rounding to these consonants may aid in disambiguation. The data should provide a clearer test of Enhancement Theory, and a novel examination of how it applies to other fricative contrasts in English.

Keyser, S. J., & Stevens, K. N. (2006). Enhancement and overlap in the speech chain. Language, 33-63. 

Miller, G. A., & Nicely, P. E. (1955). An analysis of perceptual confusions among some English consonants. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 27(2), 338-352.

Keyser, S. J., & Stevens, K. N. (2006). Enhancement and overlap in the speech chain. Language, 33-63.

Mahyar Nakhei – An unresolved puzzle in Persian: The inconclusive data of '-esh'

Persian has a distinctive subject-verb agreement system. The only slot which no agreement attaches to is PAST 3SG verbs. In the Tehrani dialect of Persian, though, a new marker ‘-esh’ homophonous to 3SG object clitic is optionally added to the end of PAST 3SG verbs as in (1). 

(1)    ye mard-i                         umad-(esh)

       one man-NONSPEC       came-(esh)

       ‘A man came.’

Some claim that it is a new agreement marker borrowed from the Persian object clitic paradigm to fill the empty slot in the agreement paradigm (Rasekh 2011, 2017). However, it still demonstrates some clitic-like properties like being optional on the verb and blocking other Persian clitics to follow unlike other agreement markers (Mahootian & Gebhardt 2019). I collected the judgement of 42 native speakers on items including ‘-esh’. The results reveal that although ‘-esh’ is still an object clitic and unable to select non-specific objects, it is in the stage of being reanalyzed as an agreement marker to fill the empty slot in the Persian agreement paradigm in that it can select subject arguments regardless of their specificity as in (1). 

Mahootian, S., & Gebhardt, L. (2019). Revisiting the status of-eš in Persian. Trends in Iranian and Persian linguistics, 263-276.

Rasekh, M. M. (2011). The rise of agreement; The case of Persian enclitics. In 2011 International Conference on Languages, Literature, and Linguistics(pp. 530-534).

Rasekh, M. M. (2017). Persian clitics: Doubling and agreement. Journal of Modern Languages24(1), 16-33.

Samvelian, P., & Tseng, J. (2010, July). Persian object clitics and the syntax-morphology interface. In 17th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar(pp. 212-232).

Kang Xu – Co-occurring Sentence-Final Particules in Mandarin Chinese

In Mandarin Chinese, the term ‘sentence-final particle’ has been used to describe a group of particles which always locate in the sentence-final positions and whose categorial status is unclear (e.g. their function depend on the specific extralinguistic context). Three examples containing sentence-final particles are given in (1a-c).


a. zhè  dōngxi    sānbaǐ                 yuán maǐ bù    laí      ne 

    this   stuff       three-hundred CL    buy NEG come particle

”This stuff cannot be bought with three hundred Yuan (believe me).”

                                                                       (Lu 1990, p.264)

b.    Tā      zìjǐ      bù      yào     me.

      he      self      NEG  need    particle

”He does not need (one) (you should know this).”

                                                                        (Lu 1990, p.270)

c. Nǐ      juéde    zhème    gàn  duì     ha? 

    you    think   like.this   do    right  particle

”You think it is right to do this, eh?”

                                                                       (Yin 1999, p.99)

Mandarin sentence-final particles have been analyzed uniformly as sentence-final complementizers by a group of researchers (Paul and Pan 2017; Pan 2019). However, in the present paper, I draw evidence from co-occurring sentence-final particles to demonstrate that in Mandarin, sentence-final particles must co-occur in a fixed order. This observation casts doubts on the assumption that these particles are complementizers because treating particles as complementisers does not explain why particles must appear in a fixed order.

Lu, S. X. (1990). Zhongguo wenfa yaolue [An outline of Chinese grammar]. Beijing: Shangwu Yinshuguan [The Commercial Press].

Pan, J. N. (2019). Architecture of the periphery in Chinese: cartography and minimalism. London: Routledge.

Paul, W. & Pan, J. N. (2017). ‘What you see is what you get: Chinese sentence-final particles as head-final complementisers’, in J. Bayer & V. Struckmeier (eds.) Discourse Particles-Formal Approaches to their Syntax and Semantics, [Linguistiche Arbeiten], Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter, p.49-77.

Yin, S. C. (1999). On mood particle ha and ha sentences. Dialects, 2, pp.95-103.

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