cat attack

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, Michael Wagner and Meghan Clayards: Locality and variability in cross-word alternations: a production planning account. Poster at Labphon 15 at Cornell. [abstract]


cat attack


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On the interpretation of reflexive pronouns

Alanah McKillen just finished her Dissertation On the interpretation of reflexive pronouns. You can read it on lingbuzz.

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prosodylab at WCCFL

Tomorrow, at 10.30 at WCCFL in Utah:

Liz Smeets, Michael Wagner (McGill): The syntax of focus association in German/Dutch: evidence from scope reconstruction

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Kilbourn-Ceron et al. at CLS

Last week we presented a paper on flapping and production planning at CLS:

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, Michael Wagner & Meghan Clayards (McGill University) The effect of production planning locality on external sandhi: A study in /t/

The intervocalic flapping of English coronal stops /t, d/ is nearly categorical when the VTV sequence is within a word but variable when a word boundary intervenes, and occurs only rarely across a large boundary such as a clause edge. This is pattern cross-linguistically common in external sandhi — but why are segmental processes at word edges often more variable, and what influences the rate of variability? Previous literature on phonological variability has proposed that phonological rules make reference to syntactic structure or that phonological process are tied to prosodic domains. In contrast, we propose that phonological variability is only indirectly influenced by syntax and prosody through the locality of production planning. This hypothesis is motivated by psycholinguistic models of speech production, and we test its predictions for English flapping in a corpus study and a production experiment. Results show that syntax may have an effect above and beyond prosodic boundary strength, and that the lexical frequency of the following word has a significant influence on rate of flapping, consistent with the LPP hypothesis.

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prosodylab this summer in Tübingen

This summer, McGill’s prosodylab will be represented at the DGFS summer school in Tübingen on Mapping Meaning: Theory – Cognition – Variation, which is held August 15th – 26th, 2016 in Tübingen/Germany.  Early bird registration is open until June 1st.




The course is titled Prosody and Incremental Processing, an abstract is posted here.


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toward an intonational bestiary

Check out tomorrow’s prosodylab poster at NELS 46 at Concordia:

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.50.13 PM

Daniel Goodhue, Lyana Harrison, Yuen Tung Clémentine Su, and Michael Wagner (2015). Toward a bestiary of English intonational tunes. Poster at the 46th Conference of the North Eastern Linguistic Society, at Concordia University, in Montréal. [abstract] [poster] [items.]

If you want to know about the project, have a look here.

The sound data can be explored here:

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.38.20 PM

Contact us if you’d like to learn more, or want to suggest other annotations or ways to analyze this data. You can also annotate it yourself if you want.

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paper on relative clause extraposition

We posted a new paper on relative clause extraposition in German on the semantics archive:

Poschmann, Claudia & Michael Wagner (accepted). Relative Clause Extraposition and Prosody in German. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. [draft: semantics archive]

Whether a relative clause (RC) can be extraposed has been argued to depend both on contextual focus and on whether an RC is restrictive or appositive. However, no previous study has looked at the interaction between these two factors in restricting extraposition, despite the fact that different types of relative clauses are generally taken to differ in how they relate to focus. Furthermore, previous studies have not looked at the role of prosody in accounting for the effect of focus on extraposition, and have found contradictory results with respect to the prosodic differences between appositive and restrictive relative clauses. This paper presents the results of a production experiment on German which crosses the location of focus and the type of RC in order to explore how they interact in affecting prosody and extraposition.

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information structure and production planning

Just posted a forthcoming review paper on information structure and production planning on the semantics archive:

Wagner, Michael (accepted). Information Structure and Production Planning. To appear in: Féry, Caroline & Shinishiro Ishihara: The Handbook of Information Structure. Oxford University Press. [draft: semantics archive]

Utterances are planned and realized incrementally. Which information is salient or attended to prior to initiating an utterance has influences on choices in argument structure and word order, and affects the prosodic prominence of the constituents involved. Many phenomena that the linguistic literature usually treats as reflexes of the grammatical encoding of information structure, such as the early ordering of topics, or the prosodic reduction of old information, are treated in the production literature as a consequence of how contextual salience interacts with production planning. This article reviews information structural effects that arise as a consequence of how syntactic and phonological information is incrementally encoded in production, and how we can tell these effects apart from grammatically encoded aspects of information structure that form part of the message.

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Earlier this week some of us went to McGill’s gorgeous Gault nature reserve for a language labs lab meeting (lalala).

Students from Meghan Clayards‘s Speech Learning Lab, Florian Jaeger‘s HLP lab, Chigusa Kurumada‘s Kinder Lab, Morgan Sonderegger‘s Montreal Language Modeling Lab, and Michael Wagner‘s prosody.lab presented on current projects.

gault2[photo: gui garcia]

Research presentations:

  • Esteban Buz: Contextual confusability, feedback and their effects on speech production
  • Guilherme Garcia: Stress and gradient weight in Portuguese
  • Dan Goodhue: It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it: Intonation, yes, and no
  • Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron: Phrasing and phonological variability
  • Linda Liu: Learning under causal uncertainty in speech perception
  • Amanda Pogue: Exploring expectations based on speaker-specific variation in informativity

Idea talks:

  • Zach Burchill: Are accents hard to learn?
  • Guilherme Garcia: Second language acquisition of English stress by Québec French speakers
  • Sarah Colby: Effects of normal aging on perceptual flexibility for speech
  • Dan Goodhue: Towards a probabilistic explanation of contextual evidence
  • Dave Kleinschmidt: Learning to adapt
  • Maryam Seifeldin: Adaptation to and generalization of unfamiliar phonetic features

LaLaLa was co-sponsored by funds to the PIs of all participating labs

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etap3–deadline this monday!

Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody (ETAP) 3: Prosody and Variability

Date: 28-May-2015 – 30-May-2015
Location: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Call for Papers

Deadline: January 11 2015

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