Yuan Chai publishes paper in Languages

Graduate student Yuan Chai has a new paper (with Shihong Ye) in a special issue of  Languages devoted to exploring the interaction between phonation and prosody.

Chai, Y., & Ye, S. (2022). Checked syllables, checked tones, and tone sandhi in Xiapu Min. Languages 7(1): 47. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7010047


A “checked” syllable usually refers to one with a short vowel and an oral or glottal coda, which results impressionistically in a “short” and “abrupt” quality. Although common in languages of the world, it is unclear how to characterize checked syllables phonetically. In this study, we investigated the acoustic features of checked syllables in citation and sandhi forms in Xiapu Min, an under-documented language from China. We conducted a production experiment and analyzed the F0, phonatory quality, vowel duration, and vowel quality in checked syllables. The results show that, in citation tones, checked syllables are realized with distinct F0 contours from unchecked syllables, along with glottalization in the end and a shorter duration overall. In sandhi tones, checked syllables lose their distinct F0 contours and become less glottalized. However, the shorter duration of checked syllables is retained in sandhi forms. This study lays out the acoustic properties that tend to be associated with checked syllables and can be used when testing checked syllables in other language varieties. The fact that in Xiapu Min sandhi checked tones become less glottalized but preserve their shorter duration suggests that, when checked syllables become unchecked diachronically, glottalization might be lost prior to duration lengthening.

Eva Wittenberg publishes new paper on experimental design

Former UCSD undergrad Suhas Arehalli and his advisor Eva Wittenberg published a new article in Linguistics Vanguard, titled “Experimental filler design influences error correction rates in a word restoration paradigm”.

Abstract: Including fillers or distractors in psycholinguistic experiments has been standard for decades; yet, relatively little is known how the design of these items interacts with critical manipulations. In this paper, we ask about the role that contextual statistical information in filler items plays in determining if and how to correct a given error, and how grammatical expectations interact with context. We first replicate a speech restoration experiment conducted by Mack et al. (2012), measuring usage preferences of null-subject constructions. Then we report two additional experiments in which we manipulated only the filler items, either having noise appear uniformly at random, or with a particular bias. Our results (1) demonstrate that listeners are sensitive to statistical patterns in the distribution of noise within the experiment, and (2) suggest that this paradigm can be used to investigate interaction between the mechanisms that govern grammatical preferences, and those that govern error correction processes.

The paper is available here (Open Access).

SDLP Issue 10 has been published

Issue 10 of San Diego Linguistics Papers, our open-access online working papers series, has just been published and available here.

The current issue has been edited by Yuan Chai, Neşe Demir, Duk-Ho Jung, and Nina Hagen Kaldhol. This issue includes one manuscript on Gua phonology written by our recent graduate Dr. Michael Obiri-Yeboah: “Tone melody and tense, mood, aspect marking in Gua”

Joshua Wampler has a new paper in Glossa

Graduate student Joshua Wampler has a new paper out in Glossa.

Wampler, J. (2021). Do thus: an investigation into anaphoric event reference. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics6(1), 78. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.1297

Work on anaphoric event reference has focused on do so, do it, do this, and do that. This paper reports on an analysis of a heretofore unstudied form of event reference, do thus. Using a corpus of naturally occurring examples, I present evidence that do thus occupies the final slot in a hitherto incomplete paradigm for English event anaphora. Syntactically and semantically, do thus is similar to do so; but at the discourse level it patterns more like do this and do that. The data point to thus as an adverbial demonstrative on par with nominal this and that, which, when paired with do, can be used for complex event reference.

Michael Obiri-Yeboah and Sharon Rose have new paper in NLLT

Graduate student Michael Obiri-Yeboah and faculty member Sharon Rose have a new paper out in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory:

Obiri-Yeboah, Michael & Sharon Rose. 2021. Vowel harmony and phonological phrasing in Gua

In Gua, an underdocumented Tano Guang language spoken in Ghana, regressive ATR vowel harmony applies within words and non-iteratively across word boundaries. Although vowel harmony is known to cross word boundaries in some languages, little is known about the domains and extent of such harmony. We show that ATR harmony in Gua operates within phonological phrases that preferentially consist of two or three words, with binary phrases at the left edge and ternary phrases at the right edge of the utterance. Syntactic structure can exert an influence, but only with respect to subjects. In addition, we demonstrate that unary phrases are permitted, but not at the edge of the utterance. Gua is the first reported vowel harmony case that shows the same kind of phonological phrasing sensitivity as other prosodic phenomena, such as tone and duration.

SDLP Issue 9 has been published

Issue 9 of San Diego Linguistics Papers, our open-access online working papers series, has just been published and available here. It was edited by Yuan Chai, Neşe Demir, Duk-Ho Jung, and Nina Hagen Kaldhol, and includes two papers:

  • Yuan Chai, “Predicting discrimination accuracy by assimilation pattern, overlap score, and acoustic properties”
  • Eric Meinhardt, Anna Mai, Eric Baković, Adam G. McCollum, “On the proper treatment of weak determinism: Subsequentiality and simultaneous application in phonological maps”

SDLP Issue 8 has been published

Issue 8 of San Diego Linguistics Papers, our online working papers series, has just been published and is freely available. It was edited by Yuan Chai, Neşe Demir, Duk-Ho Jung, and Nina Hagen Kaldho, and includes five papers by our graduate students, encompassing theoretical and empirical work on phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax,semantics, pragmatics, and fieldwork:

  • Yuan Chai, “The source of creak in Mandarin”
  • Yaqian Huang, “A mixed height and ATR system of vowels in Rere”
  • Seoyeon Jang, “A compositional semantic analysis of echo questions in Korean”
  • Nina Hagen Kaldhol, “Grammatical gender agreement with nominal compounds in Somali”
  • Maxine Van Doren, “Intrinsic fundamental frequency of Amharic vowels”