Session Biological Grounding:

Is there a Biological Grounding of Phonology?

Type: special
Chair: Susanne Fuchs, Bernd Pompino-Marschall
Date: Thursday - August 09, 2007
Time: 16:00
Room: 4 (Green)

 

Biological Grounding-1 IS THERE A BIOLOGICAL GROUNDING OF PHONOLOGY? DETERMINING FACTORS, OPTIMIZATION, AND COMMUNICATIVE USAGE
Susanne Fuchs, ZAS Berlin
Bernd Pompino-Marschall, Humboldt University Berlin
Pascal Perrier, GIPSA-lab, ICP & INPG Grenoble
Paper File
  This special session discusses the issue if there is a biological grounding of phonology. By reviewing current and past work from different speech research disciplines we suggest that (1) biological factors provide the limits, the frame of reference for phonology, (2) phonology is shaped by optimization processes taking into account the nonlinear relations of different representations of speech (acoustics, articulation, speech perception), and (3) sociolinguistic factors and communicative usage affect, for instance, speech acquisition and sound change. The first of the three suggestions is biological in nature whereas the last represents the non-biological nature of speech.
Biological Grounding-2 BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL GROUNDING OF PHONOLOGY: VARIATION AS A RESEARCH TOOL
James M. Scobbie, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh
Paper File
  Phonological-phonetic sound systems are abstractions away from substance, so while they are grounded in biological capacity, they also reflect phonetically un-natural relationships arising from a variety of linguistic factors. Sociolinguistic variation is one of these non-biological factors. Pilot results of Scottish English derhoticisation and the social distribution of articulatory variation are presented. The patterns are more radical than the systems that are normally examined in research into the grounding of onset/coda allophony. Some speakers are only very weakly acoustically rhotic in codas due to a rhotic articulation being far more delayed than rhotic systems, being in practice covert for sociolinguistic reasons.
Biological Grounding-3 IRREGULAR PHONATION AND ITS PREFERRED ROLE AS CUE TO SILENCE IN PHONOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
Janet Slifka, Speech Communication Group, MIT and Eliza Corporation, MA, USA
Paper File
  Regions of silence in the speech stream are commonly produced by pressing the vocal folds together and by spreading the vocal folds apart. Given that irregular phonation normally arises from both of these actions, it is proposed that there is a preferred role for irregular phonation in phonological systems that of a cue to silence whether that silence is related to a segmental contrast or a prosodic structure and whether or not that silence is actually fully achieved. This preferred role for irregular phonation as a meaningful sound is grounded in the physical reality of managing vocal fold vibration.
Biological Grounding-4 STOP PLACE CONTRASTS BEFORE LIQUIDS
Edward Flemming, Department of Linguistics & Philosophy, MIT
Paper File
  All languages allow stop place contrasts in prevocalic position. Many languages allow stop place contrasts before liquids [l, r]. Indeed, stop-liquid clusters like [br, gl] are among the most common word-initial consonant clusters [2]. The preference for stop-liquid clusters is commonly attributed to Sonority Sequencing constraints. Here we pursue an analysis in terms of the availability of cues to place: contrasts are preferentially permitted in environments where they are most distinct. According to this analysis the high sonority of liquids is relevant only insofar as sonorous sounds are better able to support the realization of these cues. It also offers an account of more specific restrictions on place contrasts that are not amenable to an analysis in terms of sonority sequencing. Specifically, we will present evidence that the cross-linguistic dispreference for coronal-velar contrasts before laterals is due to the acoustic similarity of these clusters.
Biological Grounding-5 ARTICULATION CHANGES IN DIFFERENT VOICING PATTERNS
Kiyoshi Honda, Univ. Paris III (France) and ATR-CIS (Japan)
Shinji Maeda, CNRS and ENST (France)
Miyoko Sugito, Institute for Speech Communication Research (Japan)
Paper File
  Human speech arises from orchestrated activities of phonatory and articulatory organs and reflects human-specific characteristics in anatomy and physiology. The tongue and larynx are less tightly coupled in humans, and they are also innervated separately from the cortex. These biological specificities provide aerodynamic and acoustic bases of speech production and contribute to generating a parallel time-pattern of gradually changing vocal signals with ripples in amplitude and spectrum due to rapid articulatory movements. A close look at local sound variations suggests that tongue-larynx linkage still exists as an old trait common to the primate family, as seen in the variation of vocal frequency due to articulation. Contrarily, articulatory control may also be influenced by laryngeal control, as seen in irregular articulation in certain vocal expressions. Vowel devoicing may be a complex case of such bilateral interactions, and a special attention was made on the topic in this report.
Biological Grounding-6 SYLLABLE STRUCTURE AS COUPLED OSCILLATOR MODES: EVIDENCE FROM GEORGIAN VS. TASHLHIYT BERBER
Louis Goldstein, Haskins Laboratories & Yale University
Ioana Chitoran, Dartmouth College
Elizabeth Selkirk, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Paper File
  A theory is presented that claims the basis for syllable structure is to be found in the modes of a system of coupled oscillators that control intergestural timing in speech. Onsets correspond to the in-phase mode and codas to the anti-phase mode. Articulatory data from Georgian and Tashlhiyt Berber are presented that support the association of onsets with in-phase mode.

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