Category Archives: Newsletter

Seoyoung Kim to Alexa AI

After successfully defending her dissertation in July, Seoyoung Kim has accepted a position as Language Data Scientist working for Alexa AI in Seattle Washington. She will be handling unique data analysis and research requests that support the training and evaluation of machine learning models and the overall processing of a language data collection. Wow! Congratulations, Seoyoung!

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)

Rong Yin to Lymba Corporation

Rong Yin (PhD, 2021) has accepted a position as a Computational Linguist at Lymba Corporation starting September 2022. There, she will work on the development of ontologies for use with various kinds of computational language models. Congratulations Rong Yin, we’re proud of you!

Incoming class 2022

We are happy to introduce you to our very accomplished incoming class!

Ali Nirheche

I’m Ali, from Morocco. My research focuses on Moroccan Arabic. My interests are in the phonology / morphology interface; more specifically, my recent work focuses on non-concatenative morphology in Moroccan Arabic. I also have interests in other fields like geography, economics and entrepreneurship. I have several hobbies, some of which are traveling, hiking, and tennis. 

Yi-Shih (Helen) Chen

Hello! I am Helen (she/her), or Yi-Shih (in Chinese). Please call me by one of the two names which is the most convenient for you! I come from Taiwan, and I mainly work on formal semantics and generative syntax of Taiwan Mandarin. Before attending NTHU (National Tsing Hua University) linguistics for my master’s degree, I spent my undergrad years in NTU (National Taiwan University) physics, atmospheric sciences and geography. I have always been fascinated by the most theoretical and fundamental aspects of natural science, so I am also deeply attracted by the most theoretical and fundamental aspects of linguistics, especially the connection of formal semantics with logic.

Mariana Calderón

I’m Mariana (she/her), from Guadalajara, Mexico, a beautiful city with lots of tasty food. I did my undergrad and my MA in Mexico City, where I started to study Zapotecan languages (Otomanguean) and became interested in syntax and the syn-sem interface (mainly the verbal domain). Besides linguistics, I love dancing, doing yoga, chatting, laughing, and hunting for picture books.

Satoru Ozaki

My name is Satoru Ozaki (he/him) and I was born in Japan. I’m interested in syntax, psycholinguistics and machine learning. Outside of linguistics, I like eating sandwiches and listening to electronic music.

Suet-Ying Lam

Hi everyone, I am Suet-Ying (she/her). I am originally from Shenzhen, China, a city that is very close to Hong Kong. I attended high school and college in Hong Kong anyway. I mainly work on psycholinguistics, and at the same time have a great interest in syntax. When I’m not working on linguistics, I enjoy hiking (given that Hong Kong has too many mountains) and playing games that can run on my poor pc (for example, I earned four stars in every level of overcooked2).

Seoyoung Kim successfully defends dissertation!

Seoyoung Kim successfully defended her dissertation “Restrictive Tier Induction” on Friday July 8. Pictured from left to right with the defense fish are Gaja Jarosz, Seoyoung Kim, and Michael Becker. Committee member Maria Gouskova (NYU) participated remotely. Congratulations Seoyoung!

Alice Harris plenary talk at ICHL25

Alice Harris made a plenary presentation at the 25th International Conference of Historical Linguistics, held in Oxford 1-5 August 2022. The presentation title was “The origins of clitic placement in Aluan and Udi”. You can find the abstract here.

Green et al. article on BIN in African American English published

Range in the use and realization of BIN in African American English has been published at Language and Speech online first! This work was done by faculty members Lisa Green and Kristine Yu, together with graduate students Anissa Neal and Ayana Whitmal, former Center for the Study of African American Language undergraduate RA Tamira Powe and Deniz Özyıldız (Ph.D. ’21, now at U. Konstanz).

This material was based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant BCS-2042939, a UMass Amherst Faculty Research Grant/Healey Endowment Grant, a UMass Amherst Institute of Diversity Sciences Seed Grant, and the UMass Amherst Center for the Study of African American Language. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (or other funding sources).

Undergraduate Emily Knick ’23 featured in UMass news story

Undergraduate linguistics major and experimental labs manager Emily Knick ’23 has been featured in the UMass news story Probing the Mysteries of Language, written by UMass Director of Research Communications, Lauren Rubenstein. The news story brings out Emily’s passion for linguistics research and discusses Emily’s honors thesis project on an in-progress sound change in Japanese plosives, which is being directed by faculty member John Kingston. Congratulations Emily!

Surrounded by phonetics recording equipment, Linguistics major Emily Knick ’23 contemplates the voice onset time of a Japanese plosive in Praat while ensconced in a nook of the linguistics department. Photo credit: John Solem

UMass Linguists at LabPhon!

UMass linguists that presented at LabPhon 18 this past week (June 23-25, held virtually) included current graduate students Seung Suk (Josh) Lee, Cerys Hughes, and Alessa Farinella, and faculty member Kristine Yu. LabPhon is the biennial meeting of the Association of Laboratory Phonology

  • Seung Suk (Josh) Lee presented the poster Finding Accentual Phrases in a spontaneous speech corpus of Seoul Korean
  • Cerys Hughes, Seung Suk Lee, Alessa Farinella, and Kristine Yu presented the poster Phonetic implementation of phonologically different high tone plateaus in Luganda

UMass faculty and student alumni that presented include the following:

  • Ivy Hauser (PhD. 2019, now UT Arlington faculty) presented the poster Differential cue weighting in Mandarin sibilant merger
  • Sang-Im Lee-Kim (visiting faculty 2014-2015, now NYCU faculty) presented the poster Unmerging the sibilant merger during phonetic imitation
  • Anne Pycha (visiting faculty 2010-2012, now U. Wisconsin Milwaukee faculty) presented the poster Low density and clear speech make spoken words more memorable with Jae Yung Song and Tessa Culleton