REASSIGNMENT OF CONSONANT ALLOPHONES IN RAPID DIALECT ACQUISITION
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
• Date(s) : 4/6/2013
• Heure / time : 14h30-15h30
• Lieu / location/notice : Salle de conférences, B011, LPL
5 av. Pasteur, Aix-en-Provence
Many recent studies have demonstrated the important role that phonetic
detail plays in the representation of word forms, particularly in
connection with late plasticity. These findings, however, need to be
reconciled with models that assume a prominent role for abstract
phonemic representations. This study (also reported in German, Carlson
& Pierrehumbert, 2013) explores this issue through a dialect imitation
paradigm, and seeks specifically to locate the production system
within a spectrum ranging from exemplar-based models to highly
abstract neo-generative models. In an experiment spanning a week,
American English speakers imitated a Glaswegian (Scottish) English
speaker. The target sounds were allophones of /t/ and /r/, as the
Glaswegian speaker aspirated word-medial /t/ but pronounced /r/ as a
flap initially and medially. This experiment therefore explored (a)
whether speakers could learn to reassign a sound they already produce
(flap) to a different phoneme, and (b) whether they could learn to
reliably produce aspirated /t/ in an unusual phonological context.
Speakers appeared to learn systematically, as they could generalize to
words which they had never heard the Glaswegian speaker pronounce. The
pattern for /t/ was adopted and generalized with high overall
reliability. For flap, there was a mix of categorical learning, with
the allophone simply switching to a different use, and parametric
approximations of the “new” sound. The positional context was clearly
important, as flaps were produced less successfully when word-initial.
And although there was variety in success rates, all speakers learned
to produce a flap for /r/ at least some of the time and retained this
learning over a week’s time. To explain these effects, we propose a
hybrid model of speech production that includes elements of both neo-
generative and exemplar models.
German, J. S., Carlson, K., & Pierrehumbert, J. B. (2013).
Reassignment of consonant allophones in rapid dialect acquisition.
Journal of Phonetics, 41(3), 228-248.
James Sneed German is an Assistant Professor in the Division of
Linguistics & Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University
in Singapore. After receiving his Ph.D. in Linguistics from
Northwestern University in 2008, he worked as a postdoctoral
researcher at LPL within the framework of PRO-GRAM until 2010. His
major areas of interest include the prosody-semantics interface,
rational linguistic behavior (e.g., game-theoretic pragmatics), and
the role of non-linguistic contextual factors in the malleability and
dynamics of the sound-meaning mapping. The primary languages addressed
by this research include American English, Singapore English, French,
and Malay. Recent interdisciplinary collaborations have also led him
to explore the relationship between individual speaker factors and the
phonological system in the variability realized by voice
impersonators, and to explore how an understanding of the cognitive
representation of language can help to speed the development of low-
cost technology. James is currently visiting LPL through the support
of a grant from the Erasmus Mundus MULTI exchange program.