The Asymmetry of the asymmetry: An interplay of production and perception in the multiple tone mergers in Hong Kong Cantonese
Merger is a much-studied sound change that involves the lost of contrast between two formerly distinct phonemes. It showcases the asymmetry of production and perception in sound change as numerous studies have documented that the collapse of phonemic distinction may not processing in the same rate in these two language faculties (such as DeCamp 1953, Labov et al 1991). The asymmetry fuels the hot debate on which faculty starts a sound change: perception, or production? This paper may shed intriguing lights on this debate by presenting a complicated interplay of the two language faculties in multiple and competing mergers in Hong Kong Cantonese (HKC) tones based on a study of 120 participants of three age groups. HKC stands out from other tone languages in the world by having a rich tonal inventory with six contrastive tones. However, this rich system is in the process of merging. Among the five tone pairs that exhibited merger, an asymmetry of the asymmetry was attested in that production led perception in some mergers but followed perception in others. This paper attempts to provide an explanation for the asymmetry and fill the gap of limited studies on the interaction of the two language faculties in competing sound changes.
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Natural Language Processing resources for Mandarin
Chih-Yao Lee (National Taiwan University)
NLP regular meeting of Laboratoire Parole et Langage
December 5th, 2014
Malay Intonational Phonology
Diyana Hamzah (Nanyang Technological University)
Talk at Prosody Working Group of Laboratoire Parole et Langage
Social Organisation of Autistic Individuals’ actions
Rachel CHEN Siew Yoong (Nanyang Technological University)
C3I meeting on 26/09/2014
Impairment in social interaction is generally regarded as a key criterion for the diagnosis of Autism (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Studies of Autistic individuals have noted their repetitive or stereotypical use of gestures as an indicator of their social impairment. (Mundy et al. 1986, Loveland et al. 1986, Silverman et al. 2010) Others examine their ability to imitate gestures (Aldridge et al., 2000; Ingersoll, 2005), but characterize it as idiosyncractic or inappropriate (Ham et al., 2008). Still other studies have questioned autistic individuals’ very possession of “communicative intent” (Kanner, 1943; Churchill, 1972; Rutter, 1984).
However, most data used in these studies were obtained in structured or quasi-structured sessions in an unfamiliar environment. Research has illustrated the importance of having a natural environment and familiar interlocutors (Theodorou et al., 2010) for the facilitation of spontaneous interactions of autistic individuals. Furthermore, there has been little understanding of the sequential location of their gestures within interaction, which limits our understanding of how their motor actions can be communicative. Close examination of autistic individuals’ interaction within a natural setting can therefore further our understanding of the way gestures may contribute to the performance of communicative actions.
In the present study, we analyse in some detail the nonverbal displays of autistic individuals in interaction with others, with an aim to assessing the extent to which their multimodal displays are oriented to by their co-participants as meaningful. Under investigation are several individuals in Singapore, each diagnosed with Autism, in a range of everyday activities at home and in other familiar environments. Video recordings of naturally occurring interactions were obtained and transcribed following Conversation Analysis (CA) conventions, which provides an analytical framework that allows for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of such encounters (Dobbinson, 2010).
The study found that some aspects of the individuals’ nonverbal behaviour which might otherwise be deemed idiosyncratic or self-stimulatory (‘stimming’) turned out on closer scrutiny to play a significant role in interaction, e.g., as a delaying device or to change the direction of an interactional sequence. Head movements, eye gazes and changes in body posture were also used selectively to meet communicative goals.
While many produced gestures involved directly manipulating another’s hand, (similar to findings by Stone et al., 1997), autistic individuals also produced a significant amount of spontaneous gestures such as pointing. During a game situation, an autistic individual not only jointly collaborated with his interlocutor by imitating, but also initiated new moves of his own, accompanied by smiling and shifts in eye gaze. These displays demonstrate their ability to comprehend their interlocutors’ communicative moves, and to use gestures to pursue communicative goals within interaction.
When considering where these actions occur within a sequential interaction, the gestures produced display their engagement with their interlocutors. They jointly build upon shared sequences, and are meaningful productions within their relevant contexts. Actions produced by the children were also found to be in fine-tuned coordination with those of their interlocutors within the dynamic interactions they were participating in. These and other examples suggest that one may attribute, with justification, more communicative intent to autistic individuals than has previously been acknowledged.
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It is our great pleasure to announce that our South East Asia coordinator, Pr. Huang Chu-Ren, has been awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of Aix Marseille Université.
The title was given from AMU president, Pr. Yvon Berland, on November 25th during a scientific event organized in Marseille.