Presenter 1: Marie Bissell (QP1)
Title: The impact of phonologization on the acoustics of /ai/ raising for American English speakers in Columbus, Ohio
Abstract: The current study explored the process of /ai/ raising, an allophonic process in northern American English varieties in which /ai/ productions preceding voiceless obstruents have higher nuclei than those preceding voiced obstruents, in the context of Hyman’s (1976, 2013) formal theory of phonologization processes that described an acoustic diagnostic for differentiating phonetic patterns from phonologized patterns. This diagnostic, acoustic exaggeration, has historically been applied to several typical phonologization processes including vowel nasalization (Beddor 2009) and /s/-retraction (Baker et al. 2011): these processes are characterized by identical distributions of effects in phonetic and phonologized stages, such that there is no change in affected contexts upon phonologization of a pattern. Contrastively, /ai/ raising stands out among phonologization processes due to its non-identical distribution of raising effects in its phonetic and phonological instantiations: the phonetic pattern is characterized by un-raised allophones preceding underlyingly voiceless flaps that are surface voiced, while the phonologized pattern is characterized by raised allophones in that same context. The acoustic exaggeration diagnostic proposed by Hyman (1976, 2013) has yet to be substantially tested for an atypical phonologization process like /ai/ raising, and the current study set out to probe whether this diagnostic functions as a categorical tenet of phonologization processes writ large. I examined /ai/ raising patterns of 17 American English speakers from central Ohio in the Buckeye Corpus (Pitt et al. 2005), both to determine the direct observability of phonetic /ai/ raising patterns that have historically eluded researchers (Joos 1942, Berkson et al. 2017) and to investigate the acoustic characteristics of the allophonic split in the /ai/ vowel for each raising pattern. This analysis showed that phonetic /ai/ raising patterns were not acoustically differentiable from phonologized /ai/ raising patterns for speakers in this corpus. Implications of /ai/ raising for a theory of phonologization are discussed, including what role atypical processes should play in defining theoretical concepts. Additionally, the ways in which this data can broadly inform studies of the life cycles of phonological processes are considered, especially with respect to how /ai/ raising interacts with morphological processes in American English like word-medial /t/ flapping.
Presenter 2: Jingyi Chen (QP1)
Title: Alignment contrast in Huiyang Hakka falling tones
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to examine the role of tonal alignment in the perception and production of two falling tones in Huiyang Hakka. Whether tonal alignment can be contrastive in contour tones within a language is a long-standing debate in tonal typology. Although some previous research indicates that tonal alignment can differ systematically in production, no evidence has ever been provided to indicate that tonal alignment is contrastive in perception. Therefore, the question whether tonal alignment can be (phonologically) contrastive in contour tones is still unresolved. The results of the production experiment show that the two falling tones in Huiyang Hakka have a significant difference in tonal alignment; however, tone duration also differs consistently between the two falling tones. To find out more about the perceptual relevance of these correlates, I conducted a perception experiment to test which phonetic parameter(s) is/are the major correlate that native speakers use to encode the tonal contrast between their falling tones. The results indicate that tonal alignment is perceptually contrastive in Huiyang Hakka falling tones, for the first time providing evidence of the perceptual relevance of alignment contrasts.
Presenter 3: Kevin Lilley (QP1)
Title: Contrast enhancement in hyperspeech
Abstract: To study successful communication, it is useful to study how talkers respond to instances of miscommunication. In correcting listener misperception, talkers engage in hyperspeech, facilitating perception at an articulatory cost. Articulatory-acoustic adjustments in hyperspeech have been claimed to involve listener-directed strategies such as the enhancement of phonological contrasts. Such patterns of enhancement reveal talkers’ phonological knowledge and the architecture of the speech production system. A production experiment was conducted to investigate whether cues to place-of-articulation are enhanced in the correction of misperceived speech both in computer-directed and human-directed conditions. Mixed-effects models evaluated the contribution of phonological contrast and listener condition to durational and spectral cues to voicing and place in hyperspeech. The results revealed increases in duration (cue to voicing) yet no changes in spectral estimates (cues to place) irrespective of contrast or condition. This unexpected distribution of “enhancement” motivates a reconsideration of the origins of acoustic modifications in hyperspeech. I conclude with an exploration of the origins of the present results and of hyperspeech modifications more generally.
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