homophones and accent placement

Can a homophone antecedent cause deaccentuation?

It turns out yes:

Wagner, Michael (2020). Encoding a semantic contrast requires phonological contrast in English but not in French. Poster presented at the 61st Annual Conference of the Psychonomic Society on Nov 19 2020. [poster]

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prosodic focus

Just realized that my handbook article on prosodic focus, to appear in the upcoming Semantics Companion, has gone online on Nov 4 at the publisher’s website:

Wagner, Michael (2021). Prosodic focus. TheWiley Blackwell Companion to Semantics, First Edition. Edited by Daniel Gutzmann, Lisa Matthewson, Cécile Meier, Hotze Rullmann, and Thomas Ede Zimmermann. [doi]

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production planning and sandhi @labphon 2020

Kilbourn-Ceron, Oriana & Matt Goldrick (2020): Oral presentation at 6:20 – 6:35pm Pacific Time on July 8 at LabPhon 17, University of British Columbia [abstract]

Wagner, Michael, Josiane Lachapelle, & Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron (2020).  Liaison and production planning. Presentation in Poster session I at 12:00 – 13:30pm Pacific Time on July 6 at LabPhon 17, University of British Columbia [poster]

Link to live poster session (12:00 – 13:30pm Pacific Time on July 6): https://ca.bbcollab.com/guest/62edfe058f954ced974c038055b5aa7a

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[t/d] realizations and production planning

Kilbourn-Ceron, O., Clayards, M., and Wagner, M. (2020). Predictability modulates pronunciation variants through speech planning effects: A case study on coronal stop realizations. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology, 11(1). [doi]

Predictability has been shown to be associated with many dimensions of variation in speech, including durational variation and variable omission of segments. However, the mechanism or mechanisms that underlie these effects are still unclear. This paper presents data on a new aspect of predictability in speech, namely how it affects allophonic variation. We examine two coronal stop allophones in English, flap and glottal stop, and find that their relationship with predictability is quite different from what is expected under current theories of probabilistic reduction in speech. Flapping is more likely when the word that follows is more predictable, but is not influenced by the frequency of the word itself, while glottal stops are more likely in words that are less predictable. We propose that the crucial distinction between these two allophones is how they are conditioned by phonological context. This, we argue, interacts with online speech planning processes and gives rise to variability for context-dependent allophones. This hypothesis offers a specific, testable mechanism for certain predictability effects, and has the potential to extend to other factors that contribute to variability in speech

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new paper on hat contour

Martens, G., Torreira, F., and Wagner, M. (2020). Hat contour in dutch: Form and function. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020. [paper]

The hat contour is an intonation pattern which starts with a rise and ends in a fall. Although most researchers agree that it consists of a rise and fall, there is little consensus about the actual phonological form of this contour. Consequently, theories about the meaning of the hat pattern are very diverse as well. The current research attempts at gaining a better understanding of the relationship between the form and meaning of one specific hat contour in Dutch: Something we will refer to as the early-fall hat contour. We will test the hypothesis that an early fall encodes the presupposition that there are true alternatives to the asserted proposition. An online rating experiment was set up in which stimuli were manipulated for the timing of the fall (early fall vs. late fall) and the availability of alternative propositions. The results show that as predicted, an early-fall is less acceptable when all alternatives are ruled out than a late fall. Moreover, an early fall is preferred when there are true alternatives, which interprets as an effect of Maximize Presupposition. The effects are very small however, suggesting that more research is needed to understand these effects better. Index Terms: alternative propositions, hat contour, intonational meaning, maximize presupposition.

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new paper on high fall

Gibson, Emma, Torreira, Francisco, and Wagner, Michael. (2020). The high-fall contour in North American English: A case study in imperatives. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020. [paper]

Imperatives are often uttered with a standard declarative falling contour. However, there are several claims that they can be pronounced with different tunes, leading to different illocutionary as well as attitudinal import. In this paper, we investigate one such tune, which we categorize as the “high-fall contour” and can be described as a nuclear high accent that is often scaled higher (or ‘upstepped’) compared to earlier accents. We show that it is used in the context of “weak” (suggestion-like) and “repeated” or “redundant” imperatives. The “weak” usage of the high-fall seems contradictory in pragmatic flavour to its use in repetitions, which usually sound like definite commands and not suggestions. We test for whether these uses may be distinguishable based on prenuclear patterns, as has been suggested in prior literature, and ultimately do not find evidence to suggest the tunes are distinct. We also observe that, surprisingly, imperative repetition leads to a lengthening of duration.

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Andrés Buxó-Lugo @ prosodylab

On Wed November 13 Andrés Buxó-Lugo (University of Maryland) will present on his research in the prosodylab-meeting (10.30am-11.30am) in Room 117 in Linguistics (1085 Dr. Penfield Avenue).

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Andrés Buxó-Lugo (University of Maryland) :

The world is not enough to explain lengthening of phonological competitors

Speakers tend to lengthen words when a phonologically overlapping word has recently been produced. Although there are multiple accounts of why lengthening occurs, all of these accounts generally assume that competition at some point in the production-comprehension process leads to lengthening. In a series of experiments, we investigated what contexts lead to competition and consequent lengthening of target word duration. In two experiments, we manipulated the contexts in which a target word is produced. Speakers produced simple descriptions of animations involving referents that shared initial phonology with another potential referent (e.g., beetle and beaker). We manipulated whether the related referent (i.e. beetle) was named by the speaker themselves, by another person, or was unmentioned, and compared target word durations (i.e. beaker) in these conditions to the condition in which the related word was absent. In both experiments, we found that lengthening does not occur whenever two referents are in the display that could be confused, even when it is clear that they are confusable. Instead, speakers only lengthened target words when the speaker or another person had named the phonologically related word out loud. In a third experiment, we manipulated whether a previously mentioned referent was relevant to the present event. We found that speakers lengthened phonologically related words even when a referent was no longer relevant to the current event. We discuss the implications of these findings for existing and new theories of language production.

Paper: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749596X19300981

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new paper on focus and phrasing

Wagner, Michael and McAuliffe, Michael (2019). The effect of focus prominence on phrasing. Journal of Phonetics 77. [doi] [preprint]

Abstract

Prosody simultaneously encodes different kinds of information about an utterance, including the type of speech act (which, in English, often affects the choice of intonational tune), the syntactic constituent structure (which mainly affects prosodic phrasing), and the location of semantic focus (which mainly affects the relative prosodic prominence between words). The syntactic and semantic functional dimensions (speech act, constituency, focus) are orthogonal to each other, but to which extent their prosodic correlates are remains controversial. This paper reports on a production experiment that crosses these three dimensions to look for interactions, concentrating on interactions between focus prominence and phrasing. The results provide evidence that interactions are more limited than many current theories of sentence prosody would predict, and support a theory that keeps different prosodic dimensions representationally separate.

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new paper on hierarchy effects

Keine, Stefan, Michael Wagner, and JessicaCoon, (2019). Hierarchy effects in copula constructions. Canadian Journal of Linguistics. [doi]

Abstract
This paper develops a generalization about agreement in German copula constructions described in Coon et al. (2017), and proposes an analysis that ties it to other well-established hierarchy phenomena. Specifically, we show that “assumed-identity” copula constructions in German exibit both person and number hierarchy effects, and that these extend beyond the “non-canonical” or “inverse” agreement patterns described in previous work on copula constructions (e.g., Béjar and Kahnemuyipour 2017 and works cited there). We present experimental evidence to support this generalization, and then develop an account that unifies it with hierarchy phenomena in other languages, with a focus on PCC effects. Specifically, we propose that what German copula constructions have in common with PCC environments is that there are multiple accessible DPs in the domain of a single agreement probe, the lower of which is more featurally specified than the higher (see, e.g., Béjar and Rezac 2003, 2009; Anagnostopoulou 2005; Nevins 2007). We also offer an explanation as to why number effects are present in German copula constructions but notably absent in PCC effects. We then place our account within the broader context of constraints on predication structures.

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toward a bestiary of intonational tunes

Slides of a colloquium talk at Northwestern University, reporting on joint work with Dan Goodhue:

Toward a Bestiary of the Intonational Tunes of English
What is the inventory of tunes of North American English? What do particular tunes contribute to the pragmatic and semantic import of an utterance? How reliably are certain conversational goals and intentions associated with the use of particular tunes? While English intonation is well-studied, the answers to these questions still remain preliminary. We present the results of scripted experiments that complement existing knowledge by providing some data on what tunes speakers use to accomplish particular conversational goals, and how likely particular choices are. This research complements studies of the meaning and form of individual contours, which often do not explore alternative prosodic and other means to achieve a certain conversational goal; and it complements more exploratory research based on speech corpora, which offer a rich field for exploring which contours are generally out there, but are limited in that the true intentions of the speaker are often underdetermined by the context.

Our studies focus on three types of conversational goals, the goal to contradict (‘Intended Contradiction’), the goal to imply something indirectly (‘Intended Implication’), or to express incredulity (‘Intended Incredulity’). We looked at these three intents since their expression has been linked in the prior literature with the use of three particular rising contours: the Contradiction Contour (Liberman & Sag, 1974;  Ladd, 1980;  Ward & Hirschberg, 1985; Goodhue & Wagner 2018), the Rise-Fall-rise Contour (Ward & Hirschberg, 1985; Constant, 2012; Wagner, 2012), and the incredulity contour (Hirschberg & Ward, 1992). The results show a large extent of consistency in which strategies speaker choose to enact certain intentions, but also interesting variation. Especially the act of contradicting offers a rich set of intonational choices, and the observed data raises several challenges to our current understanding of how intonation works.

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