Linguistics Colloquia Series

Dr Andries Coetzee, Department of Linguistics, University of Michigan

Friday, September 30, 2016
3 p.m.–5 p.m.

513 Lattimore Hall

The perception/production lin at the individual and community levels: focusing on sound change

This presentation reviews current research being conducted in the Phonetics Lab of the University of Michigan. Our Lab's research program focuses on community level variation in speech production and perception, and on how individual members of a community performs within the complex variable landscape of their speech community.

Since ongoing sound changes are characterized by variability, understanding the structure of variation, and in particular the relation between perception and production in individual members of a speech community, can shed light on how sound changes are initiated and how they progress through a speech community. Do perception and production norms change together, or are they partially independent such that change in the one can lead change in the other? If they change separately, which is more likely to change first? Are individuals who produce innovative forms also more likely to rely on the innovative cues in perception?

To investigate these questions, this presentation will focus on the results of a study on the ongoing process of tonogenesis in Afrikaans. In Afrikaans, the historical distinction between voiced and voiceless plosives is currently being replaced by a distinction between high and low tone on neighboring vowels. This presentation will show how this change is realized in the speech community, with particular focus on the relation between perception and production norms in individual members of the community. The presentation will end with a brief review of a currently ongoing study that uses eye-tracking technology and airflow measures to investigate the relationship between the perception and production of anticipatory nasalization in English ('sent' produced with a nasal vowel). The implications of these studies for theories about the cognitive representation of speech and theories of sound change will be considered.