School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences Linguistics and English Language


The P-Workshop (The Phonetics/Phonology Workshop)


The Phonetics/Phonology Workshop is the meeting series of the Phonetics and Phonology Research Group. We normally meet on Thursdays (but not every Thursday) at 1:10, in the Dugald Stewart Building, and we sometimes co-organise events with other research groups. The P-Workshop programme consists of talks, seminars and discussions on subjects relating to phonetics, phonology and speech technology.

It is organised jointly by Patrick Honeybone, James Kirby and Bert Remijsen. If you would like to give a talk, suggest a reading, or lead a session we would love to hear from you: send us an email.

Recent and upcoming events

Here is a record of current events, including those to come:

  • 28th August 2014 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Misnadin 'Temporal and spectral properties of the three-way laryngeal contrast of Madurese'.
  • 9th October 2014 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Mits Ota in collaboration with Barbora Skarabela 'The phonology of baby-talk words'. [In most speech communities, there is a set of register-specific words used in addressing infants and young children (Ferguson, 1964, 1977, 1978). These typically take the form of lexical replacement such as 'choo-choo' (for train), and modification such as 'doggie' (for dog). It has long been recognized that these lexical items (?baby-talk words?) exhibit common form characteristics including the prevalence of reduplication, recurrent endings (e.g., -/i/ in English), lack of consonant clusters (cf. stomach vs. tummy), and favored prosodic structures (e.g., 'CVCV in English, CVG.GV in Arabic). However, little is understood about why baby-talk words exist at all or why they tend to have similar phonological patterns across languages. While traditional accounts focus on the resemblance between the observed common phonological structures and children's early vocalization or word production, recent findings in developmental research suggest another possibility; that is, the form characteristics in baby-talk words reflect perceptual or learning biases in infants' speech and language processing. For example, word forms containing adjacent repetition of syllables (e.g., mubaba) tend to attract the attention in young infants (Gervain et al., 2008; Gervain, Berent, & Werker, 2012) and word forms with uniform endings are easier to detect/learn (Kempe, Brooks, & Gillis, 2005; Kempe et al., 2007). In this talk, we present some preliminary outcomes of a series of experiments and analyses we have been conducting to test the hypothesis that phonological structures typical of baby-talk words facilitate word segmentation and word learning.]
  • 23rd October 2014 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Alice Turk in collaboration with Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (MIT) 'A sketch of an extrinsic timing model of speech production'. Abstract available here.
  • 27th November 2014 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Pavel Iosad 'Bottom-up phonologization of redundant features: vowel quality in south-west Welsh'. A joint event with the Celtic Linguistics Reading Group. [I present the results of a study of the phonologization of vowel quality in south-western dialects of Welsh as an example of bottom-up creation of phonological categories on the basis of predictable categorical distributions. Across Welsh dialects, the quality of (non-low) vowels in stressed syllables is closely intertwined with their length: generally, long stressed vowels are 'tense' while short stressed vowels are 'lax'. In contrastivist frameworks, the mutual predictability of length and quality forces analysts to choose one 'distinctive' feature. South-West Welsh varieties are described as deviating from this picture in allowing 'lax' long mid vowels before high vowels in a following syllable. This is a potential problem for a quantity-based contrastivist approach to Welsh vowels, such as the one in Iosad (2012). It is, however, conceivable that the pattern is not categorical but is instead a continuous trade-off in inherent vowel length. I present the results of a study of vowel quality in South Welsh. The study shows the existence of several types of quantity-quality interactions, including the one described for south-western dialects. I propose a bottom-up phonologization scenario based on learners picking up predictable distributions in the data. This analysis is supported by the patterning of exceptions and by the existence of a 'rule scattering' phenomenon.]
  • 11th December 2014 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Amanda Cardoso and Patrick Honeybone 'Palatalisation can be quantity-sensitive: Dorsal Fricative Assimilation in Liverpool English'. A joint event with the English Language Research Group.
  • 22nd January 2015 (13:10-14:00), room 1.20, DSB: Benjamin Molineaux 'Prosodic structure and the fate of early English prefixes'. [English is unique among its nearest relatives in having lost most – but not all – of its native prefixes. This change took place in the transition between the language’s old and middle periods, and is traditionally chalked up to 'wholesale borrowing' from Norman French, 'which meant an enormous cut-down on the traditional patterns of word-formation' (Marchand, 1969:131). Closer inspection shows the causality and chronology of this argument to be untenable. Other accounts of the change come from semantics (Samuels 1972; Brinton 1989; Kastovsky 1992), syntax (Hiltunen 1983; Elenbaas 2007) and phonology (Lutz 1997), as well as from grammaticalisation-inspired theories (Hopper & Traugott 2003; Los et al. 2012). Thus far, however, such work has been restricted to explaining loss of either separable or inseparable verbal prefixes, while ignoring the simultaneous decay of nominal and adjectival ones. In this talk I will attempt a principled explanation of the conditions leading to early English prefix loss and preservation across word categories. I will use corpus data to assess the extent of the decline between the two periods, going on to propose syllable weight, foot structure, and the ability to constitute independent prosodic words as factors determining prefix preservation and loss. Finally, the growth of a constraint banning heavy monosyllabic prefixes in Early Middle English will be argued for. Constituting canonical feet and prosodic words, such prefixes would have borne a degree of stress, which clashed with adjacent root-initial stress. As a result, heavy monosyllabic prefixes (tō-, and-, up-, wið-) were either lost or lexicalized.]
  • 5th February 2015 (12:10-14:00 - note unusual time), room B21 in 7 George Square (note unusual place): Bert Remijsen 'Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches in the study of tone'. [This is a dry run for a masterclass at the 4th International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation (University of Hawai'i at Manoa, February 26-March 1, 2015). Ear-based methods and quantitative analysis are both very useful in the study of tone. In order to combine them, one needs to understand how the auditory perception of pitch relates to the fundamental frequency pattern that gives rise to it. Crucial to this relation is the notion of tonal alignment. In this master class, I will explore this notion from phonetic and phonological angles, point out key findings in the experimental and typological literature, and illustrate the issues with many sound examples.]
  • 5th March 2015 (13:10-14:00), room 1.20, DSB: David Lorenz (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) and David Tizón-Couto (Universidade de Vigo) 'Speech rate and phonological environment as determinants of reduction: 'havda' and 'uzda' in spoken American English'. [Usage-based approaches to language generally assume that frequent sequences are 'chunked' and accessed non-compositionally (i.a. Bybee 2010, Langacker 2000). In spoken language, this may show in realizations that disregard the morphological components of a composite structure. We investigate this in the case of V-to-Vinf constructions in American English. Using data from the SBC (DuBois et al. 2000-2005), we examine the effects of speech rate and phonological environment on the realization of two types of the structure V to Vinf in American English: 'have to' and 'used to'. These items may undergo to-contraction (Aoun & Lightfoot 1984, Pullum 1997, Krug 2000), but the contractions are not conventionalized (unlike e.g. 'gonna'). Contraction, here defined as a reduction of the /t/-sound (flap or elision), is assumed to require non-compositionality. Speech rate is measured in syllables per second on the intonation unit; item frequencies are extracted from COCA (Davies 2008-). Across types, to-contraction is shown to be contingent on rapid speech; phonological context (specifically the following sound) affects only the final vowel (often realized as schwa). Moreover, contracted realizations of have to and used to are far less frequent than conventionalized contractions ('wanna', 'gonna'). These results suggest that 'havda' and 'uzda' are on-line reductions of non-compositional chunks, and that rapid speech potentially fosters the propagation of contracted variants.] 
  • 2nd April 2015 (13:10-14:00), room 1.20, DSB: Joe Pater (UMass Amherst) Title TBC.
  • 23rd April 2015 (13:10-15:00), room 3.11, DSB: PG Session [to be confirmed...]


Past events


  • 19th September 2013 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Martin Corley 'Analysing ultrasound articulation data in multiple-participant experiments'.
  • 10th October 2013 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: P-group business meeting.
  • Wednesday 16th October 2013 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Nigel Fabb (Strathclyde) 'Prosodic phrasing and the delivery of poetry' [note the unusual day: Wednesday, not Thursday].
  • 24th October 2013 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Andras Cser (PPKE, Hungary) 'The split place node hypothesis: evidence from Latin'. [This talk discusses the hypothesis, going back to the early 1990’s and couched in different models in different ways since then, that in feature geometry the place features of consonants and the place features of vowels occupy different slots and/or are dominated by different higher-level nodes. Analyses of a number of phenomena from Latin are adduced in support of such a model, e.g. assimilations between consonants and vowels, the behaviour and diachronic development of gn-initial stems and the allomorphy displayed by the prefix con-.]
  • NB: Andras Cser will also be giving two special seminars open to students and staff - details below. 
  • 14th November 2013 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Rosey Billington (University of Melbourne) 'The sound system of Lopit'. [Ths talk will provide an overview of the sound system of Lopit, an un(der)described Eastern Nilotic language traditionally spoken in South Sudan. Following a description of the segmental and tonal phonology, I turn to the phonological and phonetic evidence for an 'advanced tongue root' type contrast among Lopit vowels, presenting experimental results of investigations into some of their acoustic and durational properties. Results show good evidence for such a contrast, but also indicate that a number of different cues are involved, and speakers may use these to different extents.]
  • 5th December 2013 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Natalia Zharkova (QMU) 'Articulatory constraints in child speech: ultrasound tongue imaging and acoustic evidence'.
  • 13th February 2014 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: Bert Remijsen 'Evidence for contrastive tonal alignment in Shilluk'. [Many studies hypothesize or assume that tonal alignment is not contrastive in contour tones (e.g. Hyman 1988, Odden 1995, Silverman 1997, Yip 2002). However, in a recent study on Dinka, a Western Nilotic language of South Sudan, I have presented evidence of precisely this type of configuration for falling contours, i.e., of an Early-aligned Fall being in contrast with a Late-aligned Fall (Remijsen 2013). In Dinka, the Low and the Early-aligned Fall are contextually conditioned allophones of the same phonological category. On the hypothesis that tonal alignment is contrastive in contour tones, it should be equally possible for a human language to present a contrast of Low vs. Early-aligned Fall vs. Late-aligned Fall vs. High. The realisation of such a contrast would involve the same configuration of fundamental frequency, time-shifted relative to the syllable to produce four patterns. In this talk I will present evidence of this configuration in Shilluk, another Western Nilotic language.]
  • 20th February 2014 (12:10-13:00), room 1.20, DSB: Martin Kraemer (Tromso) 'An amphichronic look at palatalization and gliding in Italian'. NOTE UNUSUAL TIME AND PLACE.
  • 20th March 2014 (13:10-14:00), room 1.17, DSB: James Kirby 'Gestural coordination in Khmer word-initial clusters'.
  • 17th April 2014 (13:10-14:30), room 1.17, DSB: Postgraduate session: Daniel Lawrence 'How much do listeners know about phonetic variation? Investigating socio-indexical knowledge through web-based experiments'; Misnadin 'Temporal and spectral characteristics of the three-way laryngeal contrast in Madurese'; and George Starling 'Perceptual learning of vowel length categories in Japanese'.
  • 1st May 2014 (13.10-14.00), room 1.17, DSB: Bob Ladd 'Quasi-contrastive phonetic categories'. Dry run of a talk to be presented at ISSP 10 (10th International Seminar of Speech Production) in Cologne the following week - feedback needed!
  • 26th May 2014 (13.10-14.00): Rory Turnbull (Ohio State) 'Individual differences in phonetic reduction and audience design'.

Special seminars

  • 23rd October 2013 (14:10-16:00), room 3.10 then 3.11, DSB: Andras Cser (PPKE, Hungary) Issues in the phonological description of dead languages: case studies from Latin. [This talk discusses some preliminary methodological issues of the phonological and phonetic description of dead languages. Then case studies are presented from Latin that exemplify some interesting points either in terms of data or in terms of phonological interpretation. Depending on time, the case studies will include lateral dissimilation, variable assimilation at morpheme boundaries, contour segments vs. clusters and sequences (labiovelars, diphthongs), extrasyllabicity and resyllabification.]
  • 25th October 2013 (15:10-17:00), room 1.17, DSB: Andras Cser (PPKE, Hungary) Phonology and morphology in the nineteenth century: the issue of abstractness vs. empiricism [This talk discusses the changing roles of phonology and morphology throughout the nineteenth century and the way the focus shifted from the latter to the former beginning with the 1870’s, one of the most remarkable periods in the development of modern linguistics. This shift was a very important aspect of the Paleogrammarian-Neogrammarian transition, an aspect that has not so far got the attention it deserves. It is also closely connected to the role abstraction played in the work of the different generations of linguists. The open conflict between the Paleogrammarians and the Neogrammarians as well as the latent conflict between the Neogrammarians and de Saussure was partly grounded in different perceptions of what constituted unwarranted abstraction, an issue that is still very much with us in linguistics.]
  • Martin Kraemer will be giving a short special course on Underlying Representations in Phonology open to all students and staff. There are two sessions on this: Monday 17th February (13.10-15.00) and Wednesday 19th February (13.10-15.00), both in room 1.17. All are welcome to turn up to these sessions - no booking necessary. Details are here and here.

P-Workshop Mailing List

Information about P-Workshop events is sent to the P-Workshop mailing list. To subscribe, send an email to any one of the pworkshop organisers listed above.

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