Session Universals and Typology:

Universals and Typology

Type: oral
Chair: Eric Zee
Date: Monday - August 06, 2007
Time: 11:00
Room: 5 (Blue)


Universals and Typology-1 A Perceptual Similarity Space for Languages
Ann Bradlow, Northwestern University
Cynthia G. Clopper, The Ohio State University
Rajka Smiljanic, Northwestern University
Paper File
  The goal of the present study was to devise a means of representing languages in a perceptual similarity space based on their overall sound structures. In Experiment 1, native English listeners performed a free classification task in which they grouped 17 diverse languages based on their sound similarity. A similarity matrix of the grouping patterns was then submitted to clustering and multidimensional scaling analyses. In Experiment 2, an independent group of native English listeners sorted the group of 17 languages in terms of their distance from English. Taken together, the results of the two experiments provide the basis for developing predictions regarding foreign-accented speech intelligibility.
Universals and Typology-2 The Organization of Phonological Inventories - An Articulatory Approach
Michael Ian Proctor, Yale University
Paper File
  The phonological inventories of the world’s languages vary remarkably in their size and constituency, when modeled as sets of phonemes or systems of distinctive features. An alternative approach to the analysis of inventories can be made, based on the premise that the phonological primitives represented in the inventory, the lexicon and the speech signal are one and the same – coordinated actions of the vocal tract. Described in articulatory terms, the differences between inventories of different languages may not be as significant as feature and segment-based characterizations suggest. Comparative estimates of the entropy of different inventory structures suggest that an articulatory model may provide a more parsimonious account of the salient contrasts than a feature-based approach. Under an articulatory account, both consonantal and vocalic inventories can be explained using the same theoretical apparatus, and ‘complex’ segments can be explained in temporal terms.
Ian MADDIESON, University of New Mexico
Paper File
  This paper reviews the typology and distribution of vowel systems which include nasalized vowels. It is well-known that languages with distinctively nasalized vowels have an equal or lower number of nasalized vowel qualities than of oral vowel qualities. However, there are interesting areal differences in the distribution of systems with equal and fewer numbers of nasalized vowels. Languages in Africa usually have fewer nasalized than oral vowels; languages in the southern part of the Americas more often have equal numbers of oral and nasalized vowel qualities. The latter pattern is sometimes associated with a morphological function for vowel nasalization.

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