Author Archives: Ayana Whitmal

About Ayana Whitmal

A linguistics PhD candidate at UMASS

Liina Pylkkänen colloquium Friday Oct. 21, 2022 @ 3:30pm

Liina Pylkkänen will present, “The syntactic, semantic and associative brain: How conceptual combination interacts with syntactic composition and associative processing in temporal cortex” on Friday October 21st, 2022 at 3:30pm as part of the Linguistics colloquium series. The presentation will be both in-person in S331 in the ILC and available through Zoom. Abstract can be found below. All are welcome!

What is the neural basis of syntactic and semantic composition? Our lab’s research has revealed a consistent neural correlate of composition in the left anterior temporal lobe (LATL), tracking conceptual aspects of composition, and more elusive correlates of syntactic composition in posterior temporal cortex. Is the LATL fully independent of syntactic composition, or does it conceptually combine elements that also syntactically combine? That is, how does LATL activity relate to more structural aspects of composition? On the flip side, we can also investigate how the LATL interacts with *less* structural aspects of processing, namely pure association, which has also been shown to drive LATL activity, including in the monkey brain. I will report on our recent progress on these questions, as we gradually make headway in understanding how the combinatory machine works in our brains. 

Lisa Davidson colloquium Friday Sept. 30, 2022 @ 3:30pm

Lisa Davidson (NYU) will present, “How phonemic and non-phonemic glottals co-exist: evidence from Hawaiian” on Friday September 30th, 2022 at 3:30pm as part of the Linguistics colloquium series. The presentation will be both in-person in S331 in the ILC and available through Zoom. Abstract can be found below. All are welcome!

How phonemic and non-phonemic glottals co-exist: evidence from Hawaiian

While studies have examined the linguistic conditions that affect the implementation of phonemic glottal stops (e.g. Triqui, DiCanio 2012, German and Polish, Malisz et al. 2013), there has been less focus on the phonetic implementation of phonemic and non-phonemic uses of glottalization within the same language. This study examines both phonemic and non-phonemic glottal elements in Hawaiian conversational speech to determine whether prosodic factors influence how these two types of glottal elements are employed within the same language. The data comes from a 1970-80s Hawaiian language radio show. Phonemic glottal stops were only produced as a full glottal closure 7% of the time, and segmental factors and word position indicate that creaky realizations are more extensive when there are identical flanking vowels (e.g. /hoʔokahi/ ‘one’), and that they occur earlier in the [VʔV] sequence when the /ʔ/ is in word-initial position (e.g., /ka#ʔulu/ ‘the breadfruit’). A prosodic analysis of the words containing phonemic glottal stop that were parsed using the computational prosodic grammar in Parker Jones (2010) shows that full closures were more likely in prosodic word-initial position (e.g. {(ki:)}{(ʔa.ha)} ‘cup’). For non-phonemic glottalization at word boundaries, the main factor conditioning the presence of a glottal element was being followed by single-vowel grammatical markers (e.g. [nui#o] ‘big POSS’). 

For the phonemic glottal stop, a full closure may help indicate prosodic word boundaries, which could resolve cases where stress assignment does not disambiguate possible parses, e.g., {(ˌ ho:)}{ʔo.(‘a.ka)} or {(ˌ ho:.ʔo)}{(‘a.ka)}, ‘to open’. The preponderance of non-phonemic cases in the content word+single vowel grammatical marker environment may be to ensure that a critical single-vowel grammatical marker is not perceptually subsumed by the preceding vowel. Moreover, non-phonemic glottalization most often occurs where a content word that might begin with a phonemic glottal stop would not be expected, which may allow for both types of glottal elements to co-exist in the language without perceptual confusion or segmentation difficulties. 

(joint work with ‘Ōiwi Parker Jones)