Throughout April, three of our graduate students completed the first ever virtual defences held in our department.
S On April 6, XIZI DENG successfully defended her MA Thesis "Processing Tone and Vowel Information in Mandarin: An Eye-tracking Study of Contextual Effects on Speech Processing." Her examining committee members included senior supervisor Dr. Henny Yeung, supervisors Dr. John Alderete and Dr. Ashley Farris-Trimble, and external examiner Dr. Philip Monahan of the University of Toronto.
S On April 8, LUCA CAVASSO successfully defended their MA Thesis "English as a voicing and aspirating language: Evidence from nonnative speech perception." Their examining committee members included senior supervisor Dr. Henny Yeung, supervisor Dr. Murray Munro, and external examiner Dr. Chandan Narayan of York University.
S On April 14, NOUREDDINE ELOUAZIZI successfully defended his PhD Dissertation "The Formal Syntax for Licensing Parenthetical Verb Clauses." His examining committee members included senior supervisor Dr. Nancy Hedberg, supervisor Dr. Jamal Ouhalla, internal examiner Dr. Réjean Canac-Marquis, and external examiner Dr. Nicole Dehé of the University of Konstanz.
S This year's North West Linguistic Conference was moved online in light of the global pandemic. Even so, several of our graduate and undergraduate students were able to present their work to the broader linguistics community.
MA students SANDER NEDERVEEN and LUCAS CHAMBERS gave a recorded talk about their work "Tense Doesn't Like to Agree: The Case of Swiss German."
Undergraduate student KEVIN TYSON presented the poster "Canadian Raising in Slang" about work he has done with PhD student Irina Presnyakova.
Undergraduate student LAURENS BOSMAN also presented a poster entitled "NEG Raising in Dutch."
> Upcoming online conferences
S In addition to conference presentations, professor PANAYIOTIS PAPPAS presented a lecture called "Youth Language in the Media" on April 27 as part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Power Lectures. These lectures are aimed towards showing prospective students what the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has to offer.
> FASS Power Lecture Series
S This month, the Language and Brain Lab published three articles in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
Cho, Sylvia, Allard Jongman, Yue Wang, and Joan A. Sereno. (2020). Multi-modal cross-linguistic perception of fricatives in clear speech. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147(4), 2609-2624.
Multi-modal cross-linguistic perception of fricatives in clear speech
Research shows that acoustic modifications in clearly enunciated fricative consonants (relative to the plain, conversational productions) facilitate auditory fricative perception, particularly for auditorily salient sibilant fricatives and for native perception. However, clear-speech effects on visual fricative perception have received less attention. A comparison of auditory and visual (facial) clear-fricative perception is particularly interesting since sibilant fricatives in English are more auditorily salient while non-sibilants are more visually salient. This study thus examines clearspeech effects on multi-modal perception of English sibilant and non-sibilant fricatives. Native English perceivers and non-native (Mandarin, Korean) perceivers with different fricative inventories in their native languages (L1s) identified clear and conversational fricative-vowel syllables in audio-only, visual-only, and audio-visual (AV) modes. The results reveal an overall positive clear-speech effect when visual information is involved. Considering the factor of AV saliency, clear speech benefits sibilants more in the auditory domain and non-sibilants more in the visual domain. With respect to language background, non-native (Mandarin and Korean) perceivers benefit from visual as well as auditory information, even for fricatives non-existent in their respective L1s, but the patterns of clear-speech gains are affected by the relative AV weighting and “nativeness” of the fricatives. These findings are discussed in terms of how saliencyenhancing and category-distinctive cues of speech sounds are adopted in AV perception to improve intelligibility.
Leung, Keith K.W. and Yue Wang. (2020). Production-perception relationship of Mandarin tones as revealed by critical perceptual cues. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147(4), EL301-306.
Production-perception relationship of Mandarin tones as revealed by critical perceptual cues
The relationship of lexical tone production and perception has not been well studied. Using Mandarin tone, this research tests the hypothesis that a production-perception link is revealed by critical perceptual cues. The critical status of perceptual tonal cues was determined by perceptual cue weights, showing fundamental frequency (F0) contour as being more critical than height. Then, tone production features were examined for critical F0 contour (slope, curvature, turning-point location) and non-critical F0 height (mean, onset) cues. A production-perception correlation was found for F0 contour but not height cues, suggesting that critical perceptual cues dictate the relationship between production and perception.
Tupper, Paul, Keith Leung, Yue Wang, Allard Jongman, and Joan A. Sereno. (2020). Characterizing the distinctive acoustic cues of Mandarin tones. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147(4), 2570-2580.
Characterizing the distinctive acoustic cues of Mandarin tones
This study aims to characterize distinctive acoustic features of Mandarin tones based on a corpus of 1025 monosyllabic words produced by 21 native Mandarin speakers. For each tone, 22 acoustic cues were extracted. Besides standard F0, duration, and intensity measures, further cues were determined by fitting two mathematical functions to the pitch contours. The first function is a parabola, which gives three parameters: a mean F0, an F0 slope, and an F0 second derivative. The second is a broken-line function, which models the contour as a continuous curve consisting of two lines with a single breakpoint. Cohen’s d, sparse Principal Component Analysis, and other statistical measures are used to identify which of the cues, and which combinations of the cues, are important for distinguishing each tone from each other among all the speakers. Although the specific cues that best characterize the tone contours depend on the particular tone and the statistical measure used, this paper shows that the three cues obtained by fitting a parabola to the tone contour are broadly effective. This research suggests using these three cues as a canonical choice for defining tone characteristics.