Archive for the ‘Groups’ Category

Grant Workshop for Linguistic Fieldwork

On 22 April 2015, the Fieldwork Group will hold a Grant-Writing Workshop with a particular focus on the Linguistics Department Fieldwork Grant. Rob Podesva, who is on the committee for this department internal grant will be there to answer questions and make suggestions about what to include and how to prepare.

P-Interest Workshop Meeting Today (3/20) at Noon: Lionnet

Join us today (Friday 3/20) for the last P-interest talk of the quarter, where Florian Lionnet (UC Berkeley) will be giving a talk entitled “Laal rounding harmony: the case for subfeatural representations in phonology”. The talk will be at noon in the Greenberg Room (460-126).

P-Interest Workshop Today (3/06) at Noon: Silverman

Join us today at noon in the Greenberg Room for a talk by Daniel Silverman (San José State) on two functional forces governing neutralization.

Neutralization: rhyme and reason in phonology

“Neutralization” is a conditioned limitation on the distribution of a language’s contrastive values. The thesis explored herein: most cases of neutralizing alternation are heterophone-maintaining, and are consequently function-neutral, in the sense that lexical semantic distinctness remains stable. Only in those rare instances when a neutralizing alternation is homophone-deriving might it be function-negative, in terms of potentially rendering lexical semantic content non-distinct. Indeed, neutralization is often function-positive, as it may serve as an aid to parsing the speech stream into its functional (morphemic and lexical) components. In all, it is proposed that neutralization may proceed largely unchecked (thus increasing what I term phonological RHYME), until encountering a passive, usage-based pressure inhibiting excessive derived homophony (that is, until phonological REASON would be breached).

P-Interest Workshop Meeting Today (2/27) at Noon

Join the P-interest workshop today at noon in the Greenberg Room, where Santiago Barreda (UC Davis) will speak about speaker-adaptive vowel perception.

Modelling speaker-adaptive vowel perception using a statistical pattern-recognition model

In this talk I will outline experimental evidence suggesting that vowel perception and the determination of apparent speaker characteristics are related processes, and that they interact and cooperate. In this view of vowel perception, the interpretation of acoustic information is based on what the listener expects for a given speaker, and the detection of speaker changes is an important aspect of speech perception. This approach to speech perception is able to explain a wide range of experimental results including the influence of instructions on vowel perception, the increased reaction times associated with mixed-speaker listening situations, and the indirect effect of some speech cues (e.g. pitch) on perceived vowel quality. I will outline a statistical model of vowel perception that identifies vowel sounds probabilistically, on the basis of speaker-specific expectations. The results of some behavioral experiments were simulated using this model to compare the predictions made by alternative views of vowel perception. Results support the notion that vowel perception is tied to speaker expectations and the detection of speaker changes rather than being deterministically related to the acoustic characteristics of a speech sound.

P-Interest Workshop Meeting Today (2/20) at Noon: Heath

Join the P-Interest Workshop as they welcome Jevon Heath (Berkeley), who will present on recent work in phonetic accommodation. The talk will be in the Greenberg Room.

How do we measure phonetic accommodation?

In phonetic accommodation, talkers change the way they talk due to their interlocutors’ speech. This is commonly interpreted as imitation of features found in the received speech signal, and a growing body of literature relies on measuring the degree of imitation talkers evince in order to draw conclusions about attitudes toward their interlocutors. However, the best way of carrying out this measurement is unclear. Some studies have relied on quantitative measurements of particular phonetic features (Shockley et al. 2004, Babel 2010, inter alia); other studies use qualitative judgments from a third party (the AXB paradigm (Goldinger 1998, Pardo et al. 2012, inter alia). I present data from two studies indicating issues with both quantitative and qualitative methods of measuring phonetic accommodation. In the first study, I find that participants converging towards a model talker in one dimension simultaneously diverge in a related dimension, indicating the difficulty of isolating a particular feature or set of features as the locus of imitation. In the second study, listeners participated in an AXB study in which the two model speakers had not interacted. I find that listeners exposed to two recordings of the same speaker at different times report that speaker’s later iteration as sounding more similar to a second speaker, even in a context in which no accommodation is possible. I conclude with suggestions for mitigating these issues in accommodation studies going forward.

CogLanguage Workshop Meeting next Thursday (2/26) at 4PM: Lupyan

The CogLanguage Workshop would like to welcome you to a talk by Gary Lupyan (Wisconsin-Madison) on his work on the realization of language and thought in the mind. All are welcome to this exciting talk, which will take place at 4PM in the Greenberg Room!

How Language Programs the Mind
In contemporary psychology, it is common to view the mind as being split. On one side are processes such as perception, attention, and memory. On the other are linguistic processes such as word and sentence comprehension which translate nonverbal representations into verbal ones. I will argue that this split is untenable. Rather than being a medium into which “thoughts” are translated for communication, language acts as a high level control system for the mind, changing how perceptual and conceptual representations are activated. I will support this position by showing how even subtle linguistic manipulations affect behavior from low-level visual tasks to higher-level categorization and inference. I will then discuss several design features of language that make it an especially powerful tool for programming the mind.

P-Interest Workshop Meeting Today at Noon: Lindsey

Join the P-Interest Workshop today in the Greenberg Room, as they hear from our graduate student Kate Lindsey.

Finding your Feet in Chuvash

The syllabic structure of Chuvash reveals an unexpected incompatibility between the mechanisms of foot structure and stress assignment, generally considered to be equivalent. Words in Chuvash with foot structure but without stress challenge the assumption that these phenomena are the same. This observation supports Vaysman (2009), who found analogous mismatches in other languages, including neighboring Eastern Mari. Here, I claim that all Chuvash words are composed of bimoraic metrical feet and that some Chuvash words lack word-level stress. I provide evidence for metrical feet by exploring segmental phenomena such as word minimality, vowel deletion and consonant lengthening. I show that word-level stress is optional by analyzing the phonetics and phonotactic distribution. I compiled my data from the Electronic Word list of Chuvash (Luutonen et al. 2008) and personally collected audio/video recordings of Chuvash speech.

Cognition & Language Workshop Thursday (2/12) at 4PM: Grodner

Dan Grodner (Swarthmore) will speak at the Cognition & Language Workshop next Thursday at 4PM in the Greenberg Room.

A Bayesian Account of Conversational Inferences

Much if not most of the meaning that speakers convey with their words is implicit. The standard account of how perceivers recover implicit content is via a process of rational psychosocial inference: Perceivers appeal to a set of maxims to formulate a generative model of a cooperative speaker (Grice, 1975). This view requires that perceivers reason about the communicative intention of the speaker’s speech act (the whole utterance). Over the past 10-15 years, a number of researchers have argued that the standard account is inadequate because it cannot account for the existence of so-called local implicatures. These are cases where an inference appears to be generated within an embedded constituent within an utterance (e.g., Chierchia, Fox & Spector, 2012; Chemla & Spector 2011, Gajewsky & Sharvit, 2012). I will describe a probabilistic model that follows from the assumptions of the standard Gricean account (Russell 2012) and provide experimental evidence that supports it. I will show how this model can explain seemingly local implicatures without appealing to special grammatical operators. In addition to providing a formalization of Gricean reasoning, this approach allows us to preserve the traditional division of labor between semantics and pragmatics. The present approach is similar in spirit to other recent probabilistic approaches (e.g., Goodman & Stuhlmueller 2013) but covers different empirical territory and differs in its mechanics.