2016

PIRE fellow Jonathan Steuck presents at NWAV 45

When Nov 03, 2016 09:00 AM to
Nov 06, 2016 05:00 PM
Where Simon Fraser University
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Jonathan Steuck, a 2015 PIRE fellow, has recently presented a poster at NWAV 45.  The title and abstract can be found below: 

“¿Eres de aquí?” ‘Are you from here?’ Spanish dialects in contact and fundamental frequency (f0) accommodation in yes-no questions 

Prosody conveys not only linguistic meaning, but also extralinguistic information determined by the broader situational context (e.g. ‘speaker and addressee attributes’; Cole 2015; Henriksen 2013). By using intonation, speakers may encode sociolinguistic meaning via phonetic accommodation, “the process whereby speakers in an interaction modify their speech in response to their interlocutor” (MacLeod 2012:ii). While accommodation may be partly automatic and subconscious (Pickering & Garrod 2004; Trudgill 2008), sociophonetic research supports that speakers can exercise socially-motivated agency when accommodating (see e.g. Giles et al. 1991 for Communication Accommodation Theory; Babel 2010 for vowels; Babel & Bulatov 2011 for f0; Romera & Elordieta 2013 for group-level accommodation). Given these findings, to what extent do speakers of different dialects with contrasting intonation accommodate when they come into contact? To address this question, I quantify whether a speaker changes her fundamental frequency (f0) to converge with (accommodate to) or diverge from a Spanish speaker of another dialect when asking information- and confirmation-seeking yes-no questionsa crucial locus for analysis given the cross-dialectal variation in the nuclear accent and boundary tone configurations in Andalusian (rising: L*HH%; Henriksen & García-Amaya 2012), Porteño (falling: L+¡H*HL%; Gabriel et al., 2010, 2013) and Mexican (rising: L*LH%/H%; de-la-Mota et al. 2010) Spanish. 

Data come from a two-session (S) experiment involving native speakers of Andalusian Spanish (N=3) or a foreign dialect (Porteño/Mexican; N=3) living in Granada, Spain (total speakers=6). In S1, speakers of the same dialect individually completed a baseline intonation survey and an Implicit Association Task (IAT; Greenwald et al. 1998, 2003), which gauges a speaker’s implicit socio-cultural bias for her interlocutor’s dialect (cf. Babel 2010). Speakers then completed a map task and 20 questions game to elicit yes-no questions and a paired sociolinguistic interview to capture sentiments regarding life in Granada. In S2, the same speakers completed another map task and 20 questions game in dialect-mismatched pairs. Information- and confirmation-seeking questions from both sessions (excluding interview) were hand-segmented by syllable and annotated in Praat (Boersma & Weenink 2015) using Sp_ToBI (Aguilar et al. 2009; Vilaplana & Prieto 2008). In the baseline and when speaking with someone of the same dialect, speakers usually produce the canonical contour (i.e. rising/falling) for their dialect. To capture more finely-grained phonetic effects, I compare nuclear accents (N=651) and boundary tones (N=651) by speaker using time-normalized f0 measurements and Smoothing Spline ANOVAs. Compared to baseline, all speakers of a foreign dialect phonetically accommodate f0 to an Andalusian while 2/3 of the Andalusian speakers phonetically diverge from a non-Andalusian in nuclear accents. At the phrase-final syllable, speakers do not categorically change their boundary tone (e.g. from rising to falling) when speaking with someone from another dialect. However, speakers display sensitivity to an interlocutor in terms of the percent of rising vs. falling contours used. Finally, results from the IAT suggest that bias for a particular Spanish dialect does not consistently predict degree of accommodation, a finding counter to Babel (2010). Nevertheless, this study provides further support for group-level accommodation (cf. Babel 2010; Romeira & Elordieta 2013). 

PIRE fellow Grant Berry presents at LabPhon15

When Jul 13, 2016
from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Where Cornell University
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Grant Berry, a 2016 PIRE fellow, has recently presented a poster at the 2016 LabPhon conference.  The title and abstract can be found below: 

Style-shifting and phonetic alignment in non-native discourse

We investigate the plasticity of phonological boundaries in discourse in a lingua franca by tracking the production of 34 Spaniards conversing with two Dutch confederates in English across two speech styles, and we focus on incremental changes in two key English vowel contrasts. The first, /i/-/ɪ/, is not made by Spanish speakers in aggregate but reliably produced by the Dutch confederates. The second, /ɛ/-/æ/, is produced by Spanairds, but not by Dutch confederates. We assessed degree of merger in each of ten normalized time bins with the Pillai score. Results indicate that Spaniards align with the Dutch confederates in their production of these contrasts, merging /ɛ/ and /æ/ and gradually separating /i/ and /ɪ/, rather than adopting standard English production. We found greater merger overall in informal speech, but an interaction with time for the /i/-/ɪ/ contrast indicates that /i/ and /ɪ/ gradually separate in informal speech. Conversely, there is no effect of time for the /ɛ/-/æ/ contrast: Spaniards merge /ɛ/ and /æ/ when conversing with the Dutch confederates significantly more in informal speech, but the magnitude is static throughout each interview. Finally, proficiency modulates alignment: the most proficient speakers separate /i/-/ɪ/ and merge /ɛ/-/æ/ more than less proficient speakers.


PIRE fellow Alex McAllister presents at LabPhon15

When Jul 13, 2016
from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Where Cornell University
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Alex McAllister, a 2015 PIRE student, presented data with his PIRE advisor, Matthew T. Carlson, at the 2016 LabPhon conference. The abstract can be found below: 

Phonetic reduction, perceptual illusions, and phonotactic legality

This study probed the relationship between automatic phonotactic repair and speech production, by asking whether the repair structure (a prothetic vowel) may be susceptible to reduction in speech. Spanish productively repairs word-initial /s/-consonant clusters (henceforth #sC) with a prothetic /e/ in both production and perception. We asked whether the initial vowel in Spanish #esC words like espalda ‘back’, which matches the default repair vowel, is more prone to reduction than other initial vowels, such as in aspirina ‘aspirin’. We explore this question in the speech production of 15 speakers of Andalusian Spanish who produced half #esC and half #asC words in isolation (578 tokens). Outright vowel deletion was uncommon, but was more likely with initial /e/ (5%) than initial /a/ (0.3%, one token). Moreover, when the /s/ was realized with greater duration (cf. the common tendency to lenite syllable-final /s/ in Andalusian), shortening of /e/, but not /a/, was observed. These findings provide evidence that reduction may be enabled when the reduced material can be perceptually repaired, leading to the occurrence of apparently illicit sequences in actual speech, e.g. espalda produced as [spalda]. The influence of articulatory, frequency, and other factors on reduction is also evaluated.


PIRE fellow Anne Beatty-Martínez presents at 29th annual conference on human sentence processing

When Mar 03, 2016
from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Where University of Florida
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Anne Beatty-Martínez, a 2015 PIRE fellow, has recently presented a poster at the 29th annual conference on human sentence processing.  The title and abstract can be found below:

Neurophysiological responses to mixed noun phrases in speakers who codeswitch and don’t codeswitch

Linguistic prediction allows individuals to link what comprehenders expect to hear with what speakers actually say. The Production-Distribution-Comprehension model (PDC; Gennari & MacDonald, 2009) states that listeners’ and readers’ sensitivity to distributional patterns in production can constrain the comprehension system. The PDC model inherently predicts variability among speakers who codeswitch and speakers who don’t codeswitch. We test this hypothesis at the neural level by examining the relationship between codeswitching production patterns and comprehension difficulty. Because exposure to codeswitching is predicted to impact comprehension, we recruited Spanish-English codeswitchers in the US and non-codeswitchers in Spain who were highly proficient in both languages. We focus on the production and comprehension of mixed noun phrases (mixed NPs; e.g., elM forkM). Evidence from naturalistic corpora suggests that bilinguals exhibit an overall preference for the masculine determiner (el), regardless of the noun’s gender in Spanish (Otheguy & Lapidus, 2003). In contrast, switches involving the feminine determiner (la) occur less frequently and are restricted to English nouns that are feminine in Spanish. To illustrate, el-codeswitches such as (elM forkM) and (elM spoonF) are extremely common. To a lesser extent, la-codeswitches involving feminine nouns (laF spoonF) have also been attested in bilingual speech, while those involving masculine nouns (*laF forkM) have not. We predicted that neurophysiological responses would reflect this asymmetry in codeswitchers but not in non-codeswitchers. Production was examined in a corpus of unscripted, taskoriented dialogues; comprehension was investigated in sentential contexts using event-related potentials. The same groups of bilinguals participated in the production and comprehension studies. As shown in Table 1, results for production show that proportions of noun phrase types (i.e., Spanish, English, or mixed NPs) differed across groups (X2 (2, N=6691) = 297.28, p<.000). Codeswitchers (N=14) produced more mixed NPs than non-codeswitchers (N=15) and these switches robustly reflected the aforementioned gender asymmetry. The ERP experiment showed that for bilinguals who codeswitch (N=15), switches consistent with attested distributional patterns were easier to process. This is reflected in the N400 response for less frequent compared to more frequent switches (see Figure 1). Crucially, no such effects were observed in non-codeswitchers (N=20). Our data suggest that individuals are highly sensitive to the constraints of their interactional context. In this way, converging evidence from codeswitching sheds light on how production choices speakers make can predict comprehension performance.

PIRE fellow Grant Berry presents at NWAV 45

When Nov 03, 2016
from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Where Simon Fraser University
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Grant Berry, a 2016 PIRE fellow, has recently presented at the 2016 LabPhon conference.  The title and abstract can be found below: 

Alignment-induced phonological variation in non-native dialogue

Individuals are attuned to process variation at all levels of linguistic production. Even at the level of phonetics, where phones vary due to coarticulation, physiology, and language experience (among other factors), speakers alter their production in response to the speech of their interlocutor (phonetic alignment; e.g., Pardo, 2006; Babel, 2012). Most research on phonetic alignment has investigated phonetic variation within a single phonological category, but individuals are also often exposed to systematic production variation across categories. Additionally, nearly all research on the topic has assessed phonetic alignment at only two time points (cf. Pardo, 2006; Delvaux and Soquet, 2007; Babel and Bulatov, 2011; Nielsen, 2011; Babel et al., 2013; Trofimovich and Kennedy, 2014; Hwang et al., 2015) rather than in real time, raising the question of whether alignment is an incremental process influenced by continued exposure or a rapid shift in production patterns due to discourse context. 

The current study investigates the plasticity of phonological boundaries in discourse using a corpus of 34 Spanish-English bilinguals who converse with two Dutch confederates in English as a lingua franca across two speech styles (the Nijmegen Corpus of Spanish English; Kouwenhowevn et al., Forthcoming). When Spaniards converse with Dutch interlocutors in English as a lingua franca (ELF), they encounter two variables not present in their L2 speech: an English-like vowel contrast they have difficulty producing (/i/-/ɪ/; cf. Flege, 1991; Booij, 1995:1; Casillas, 2015) and a merger of two English vowels that habitually distinguish (/ɛ/-/æ/; cf. Booij, 1995:4-5; Archila-Suerte et al., 2012; Giacomino, 2012). We track the production of these contrasts during formal and informal speech using the Pillai score1 (e.g., Nycz and Hall-Lew, 2013; Hay et al., 2006; Babel et al., 2013) as an analog of category separation and mixed effects models of the corpus data (cf. Baayen et al., 2008; Baayen et al., 2015; Barr et al., 2013; Bates et al., 2015a; Bates et al. 2015b). 

Results indicate that Spaniards aligned with Dutch confederates in their phonological category production, quickly merging their /ɛ/-/æ/ distinction and gradually separating their merged /i/-/ɪ/ category (see Figure 1), rather than adopting standard English production (a four-way contrast). We found greater merger in informal speech, but an interaction with time for the /i/-/ɪ/ contrast, which indicates that /i/ and /ɪ/ gradually separated in informal conversation. However, there was no effect of time for the /ɛ/-/æ/ contrast: Spaniards merged /ɛ/ and /æ/ more strongly in informal than in formal conversation, but the magnitude was stable throughout the conversation (see Figure 1). Finally, proficiency influenced alignment: the most proficient speakers separated /i/-/ɪ/ and merged /ɛ/-/æ/ more than less proficient speakers (see Figure 2). We situate these results alongside other research on phonetic alignment and speech production, stressing the importance of treating phonological categories as dynamic and interpreting phonetic alignment as a complex phenomenon that may be rapid or gradual, depending on the phonological categories under investigation. 



PIRE fellow Kinsey Bice presents at International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society

When May 05, 2016 09:00 AM to
May 08, 2016 05:00 PM
Where Granada, Spain
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Kinsey Bice, a 2016 PIRE fellows, has recently presented a poster at the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society. The title and abstract can be found below: 

Language knowledge and context affect how comprehension spills over to production

Language contexts vary dramatically around the world, leading to diverse linguistic experiences for monolinguals, language learners, and proficient bilinguals. While only bilingual speakers experience the effects of switching between a second language (L2) and the native language (L1), all speakers, including monolinguals, encounter situations in which an L2 (known or unknown) is heard and semantically supported by context through gestures, the surrounding environment, or translation. The present study examined how comprehension in the L2 (in bilinguals) or the intention to comprehend the L2 (in monolinguals) affects the ability to subsequently speak in another language. Participants performed a picture-naming task while event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. They named pictures from the first block in one language, viewed pictures while listening to the names in another language during the second block, and returned to the first language for naming the pictures in the third block. Participants varied in language knowledge as well as context: Mandarin-English bilinguals in the USA, monolingual English participants in the USA, Cantonese- English simultaneous bilinguals in Hong Kong, and monolingual English participants in Hong Kong. Initial ERP analyses reveal a modulating effect of language experience, such that bilinguals benefit from repetitions of both heard and spoken items, monolinguals in the USA who listened to pictures named in an unknown language are not facilitated in subsequent naming, and monolinguals living in Hong Kong experience interference for naming items that were previously heard in Cantonese. These results suggest that language experience and language context change how comprehension affects production.

PIRE fellow Kinsey Bice presents at International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society

When Nov 19, 2016
from 09:00 AM to 07:05 PM
Where Chicago, Illinois
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Regulating the L1 Across Contexts to Investigate L2 Acquisition

Converging evidence across tasks and levels of language processing suggests that proficient bilinguals differ from monolinguals in the native language (L1). Language competition arising from parallel activation of the languages is resolved through inhibition of the L1 relative to L2 activation (Green, 1998). Therefore, L1 inhibition should be more difficult early in L2 learning, but necessary for successful acquisition. Here, we present data from two experiments testing the idea that changes in L1 processing early during L2 learning promote the development of L2 proficiency. The first experiment tests classroom learners in an L1 context, demonstrating that beginning and intermediate learners show neural sensitivity to L2 cognate words in the L1 earlier than previously reported. The second experiment reports preliminary data from English speakers living in Hong Kong who are exposed to Cantonese but not required to use it, to investigate how this immersion context affects Cantonese acquisition and L1 processing.