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Lang Speech [journal]
- Segmentation of written words in French. [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- Lang Speech 2013 Mar; 56(Pt 1):125-42.
Syllabification of spoken words has been largely used to define syllabic properties of written words, such as the number of syllables or syllabic boundaries. By contrast, some authors proposed that the functional structure of written words stems from visuo-orthographic features rather than from the transposition of phonological structure into the written modality. Thus, the first aim of the study was to assess whether the explicit segmentation of written words in French was consistent with syllabification patterns for spoken words previously reported. Second, given that spelling does not map perfectly with phonology, we examined how readers segmented printed words with grapheme/phoneme misalignments. The examination of the whole patterns of written segmentation produced by participants showed that, though written segmentation followed spoken segmentation for words matched for phonological/orthographic forms, discrepancies were found in cases of mismatch, therefore suggesting that readers rely on orthographic cues to parse printed strings of letters. This conclusion was confirmed with an on-line letter detection task.
- An analysis of noun definition in Cantonese. [Journal Article]
- Lang Speech 2013 Mar; 56(Pt 1):105-24.
This study investigated the noun definitions given by Cantonese speakers at different ages. Definitional responses on six concrete nouns from 1075 children aged 4;10 to 12;01 and 15 adults were analyzed with reference to the semantic content and the syntactic form. Results showed that conventional definitions produced by Cantonese adult speakers were realized with specific superordinates and more perceptual than functional attributes. The content was carried by a syntactic frame, "NP1, is NP2", where relative clause was not the predominant form of NP2 as in the English definition forms. Core attributes signifying the defining properties increased significantly with age while non-core attributes were observed relatively evenly throughout all groups. Preschoolers tended to drop the sentential-subject (i.e., NP1) and the copula is, and produce more functional than perceptual attributes. By Primary-2 (P2) (about 7;0), the taxonomic relation was coded with the frame of "NP1 is NP2". Beginning at P4 (about 9;0), children included a superordinate but the specificity of the adult-like superordinate was not achieved even by P6 (about 11;0). In general, developmental trends accorded with the trends observed in other languages, but typological features played a role in framing the development of the syntactic form.
- Contextual evidence for the representation of pitch accents in Standard Serbian. [Journal Article]
- Lang Speech 2013 Mar; 56(Pt 1):69-104.
This paper reports the results of an experiment that elicits contextual effects on Rising and Falling accents in Standard Serbian, with the goal of determining their acoustic correlates and their phonological representation. Materials systematically vary the distance between pitch accents, inducing "tone crowding," in order to identify the phonetic dimensions that consistently distinguish the two pitch accent types, to examine the association between accents and the segmental string, as well as the timing relationship between accent minima and maxima, and to investigate the interaction between lexical accents and boundary tones. On the basis of the phonetic findings, a unified analysis of the phonological distribution and phonetic realization of Falling and Rising accents in Standard Serbian is proposed. It is proposed that both Rising and Falling accents consist of a single lexical High (H). The restricted distribution of the two accents emerges from the interaction of stress and tone: Falling accents are monosyllabic, such that stress and pitch prominence coincide; Rising accents are bisyllabic, such that the stressed syllable precedes the pitch-accented syllable. The phonetic differences between the Falling and Rising accents follow from the place of lexically designated H, the location of stress, and the effects of boundary tones. The larger issue we address concerns the phonological characterization of tone/stress interactions. Given the two general types of interactions, one in which the place of stress is predictable from the place of tone, and the other with the reversed direction of influence, we analyze Standard Serbian as belonging to the former type. While both types can be characterized in systems of tonal phonology, which allow free interaction of tone and stress, the type exemplified by Standard Serbian, with contrastive tonal specifications governing the distribution of stress, cannot be captured in an Autosegmental-Metrical (AM) framework, in which stress serves as anchor for tonal melodies.
- Coarticulation in Catalan dark [l] and the alveolar trill: general implications for sound change. [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- Lang Speech 2013 Mar; 56(Pt 1):45-68.
Coarticulation data for Catalan reveal that, while being less sensitive to vowel effects at the consonant period, the alveolar trill [r] exerts more prominent effects than [ł] on both adjacent [a] and [i]. This coarticulatory pattern may be related to strict manner demands on the production of the trill. Both consonants also differ regarding the relative prominence of the consonant-to-vowel anticipatory and carryover effects in VCV sequences: while [r] and [ł] exert much anticipatory coarticulation on the preceding vowel, carryover effects on the following vowel turn out to be more salient for [r] than for [ł]. These consonant-dependent differences in coarticulatory direction parallel the directionality patterns observed in related vowel assimilatory and glide insertion processes occurring in the Romance languages, in Early Germanic, in Old, Middle and Modern English, and in Arabic when the target consonant is not [ł] or [r] but a pharyngealized dentoalveolar.
- Perception and bias in the processing of compound versus phrasal stress: evidence from event-related brain potentials. [Journal Article]
- Lang Speech 2013 Mar; 56(Pt 1):23-44.
Previous research using picture/word matching tasks has demonstrated a tendency to incorrectly interpret phrasally stressed strings as compounds. Using event-related potentials, we sought to determine whether this pattern stems from poor perceptual sensitivity to the compound/phrasal stress distinction, or from a post-perceptual bias in behavioral response selection. A secondary aim was to gain insight into the role played by contrastive stress patterns in online sentence comprehension. The behavioral results replicated previous findings of a preference for compounds, but the electrophysiological data suggested a robust sensitivity to both stress patterns. When incongruent with the context, both compound and phrasal stress elicited a sustained left-lateralized negativity. Moreover, incongruent compound stress elicited a centro-parietal negativity (N400), while incongruent phrasal stress elicited a late posterior positivity (P600). We conclude that the previous findings of a preference for compounds are due to response selection bias, and not a lack of perceptual sensitivity. The present results complement previous evidence for the immediate use of meter in semantic processing, as well as evidence for late interactions between prosodic and syntactic information.
- Lexical representation of Japanese vowel devoicing. [Journal Article]
- Lang Speech 2013 Mar; 56(Pt 1):5-22.
Vowel devoicing happens in Japanese when the high vowel is between voiceless consonants. The aim of this study is to investigate the lexical representation of vowel devoicing. A long-term repetition-priming experiment was conducted. Participants shadowed words containing either a devoiced or a voiced vowel in three priming paradigms, and their shadow responses were analyzed. It was found that participants produced the phonologically appropriate allophone most of the time based on the consonantal environments. Shadowing latencies for the voiced stimuli were faster than for the devoiced stimuli in the environment where the vowel should be voiced; while, no significant RT difference was observed between the two forms in the environment where vowel devoicing was expected. In addition, a priming effect between the devoiced and voiced stimuli emerged only in the devoicing environment. The results suggest that since vowel devoicing is very common in spoken Japanese, the devoiced form may be stored in the lexicon. The results also suggest a link between the two forms in the lexicon and a direct access between an input and a lexical representation without going through intermediate levels that usually cost extra processes.
- The intonation and signaling of declarative questions in Manchego Peninsular Spanish. [Journal Article]
- Lang Speech 2012 Dec; 55(Pt 4):543-76.
This paper is an experimental investigation on the tonal structure and phonetic signaling of declarative questions by speakers of Manchego Peninsular Spanish, a dialect of Spanish for which little experimental research on intonation is currently available. Analysis I examines the scaling and timing properties of final rises produced by 16 speakers under various pressures of tonal crowding. The quantitative results provide evidence for two contrasting nuclear pitch accent specifications: L* vs. H*. These data are consistent with the findings and analyses of final rises in Dutch, although certain time pressure effects had not been reported in this previous body of research. Analysis 2 provides a phonetic comparison of the two question contours uncovered in Analysis I with those of lexically and syntactically identical declarative statements. The findings indicate that speakers differentiate the two question contours from corresponding statement contours in dissimilar fashion and that for the L*H% contour, the terminal rise may be the only F0 signal of its question intent. Some speculation on the possible causes of this variation is offered in conclusion.
- Acoustic correlates of emphatic stress in Central Catalan. [Journal Article]
- Lang Speech 2012 Dec; 55(Pt 4):517-42.
A common feature of public speech in Catalan is the placement of prominence on lexically unstressed syllables ("emphatic stress"). This paper presents an acoustic study of radio speech data. Instances of emphatic stress were perceptually identified. Within-word comparison between vowels with emphatic stress and vowels with primary lexical stress reveals that the former are characterized by having a high tone, higher F0 scaling, and greater intensity, but shorter duration with respect to lexically stressed vowels. Emphatic stress can thus be characterized as anchoring an intonational pitch accent on a lexically unstressed syllable. When this phenomenon occurs, primary lexical stress is still cued by duration. Compared with other lexically unstressed vowels, vowels with emphatic stress have greater duration and intensity, and less vowel centralization. Thus, vowels are hyperarticulated when bearing emphatic stress. In particular, schwa is more open, without merging with /a/. Regarding the distribution of emphatic stresses, the most common pattern observed is binary or rhythmic (les institucions 'the institutions'), with emphatic stress occurring two syllables before the primary stress. Less frequently, emphatic stress appears on the first syllable of the prosodic word (nacionalitats 'nationalities'), occasionally producing stress clash (el marc 'the framework').
- Biomechanically preferred consonant-vowel combinations fail to appear in adult spoken corpora. [Journal Article, Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural]
- Lang Speech 2012 Dec; 55(Pt 4):503-15.
Certain consonant/vowel (CV) combinations are more frequent than would be expected from the individual C and V frequencies alone, both in babbling and, to a lesser extent, in adult language, based on dictionary counts: Labial consonants co-occur with central vowels more often than chance would dictate; coronals co-occur with front vowels, and velars with back vowels (Davis & MacNeilage, 1994). Plausible biomechanical explanations have been proposed, but it is also possible that infants are mirroring the frequency of the CVs that they hear. As noted, previous assessments of adult language were based on dictionaries; these "type" counts are incommensurate with the babbling measures, which are necessarily "token" counts. We analyzed the tokens in two spoken corpora for English, two for French and one for Mandarin. We found that the adult spoken CV preferences correlated with the type counts for Mandarin and French, not for English. Correlations between the adult spoken corpora and the babbling results had all three possible outcomes: significantly positive (French), uncorrelated (Mandarin), and significantly negative (English). There were no correlations of the dictionary data with the babbling results when we consider all nine combinations of consonants and vowels. The results indicate that spoken frequencies of CV combinations can differ from dictionary (type) counts and that the CV preferences apparent in babbling are biomechanically driven and can ignore the frequencies of CVs in the ambient spoken language.
- Palatal complexity revisited: an electropalatographic analysis of /see text for symbol/ in Brazilian Portuguese with comparison to Peninsular Spanish. [Comparative Study, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- Lang Speech 2012 Dec; 55(Pt 4):477-502.
Are palatal consonants articulated by multiple tongue gestures (coronal and dorsal) or by a single gesture that brings the tongue into contact with the palate at several places of articulation? The lenition of palatal consonants (resulting in approximants) has been presented as evidence that palatals are simple, not complex: When reduced, they do not lose their coronal gesture and become dorsals; instead, they manifest reduced linguopalatal contact while retaining their anterior place of articulation. The frequently-reported deocclusivization of the Brazilian Portuguese (BP) palatal nasal may support this claim. However, the linguopalatal configuration of this sound has not been studied directly. Electropalatographic evidence from three speakers of BP (compared with data from three speakers of Peninsular Spanish) demonstrates that the palatal nasal is frequently realized as an approximant. There is no evidence of anterior occlusion in BP's post-palatal, lenited nasal. Under conditions of focus/hyperarticulation, there is no evidence of stronger/more anterior occlusion. We argue that the articulatory target of the BP palatal nasal is neither occluded nor anterior.