Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Visiting Assistant Professor
UC Berkeley Linguistics
I teach phonetics and phonology in the Berkeley linguistics department. My research interests include phonetics, phonology, the interface between the two, prosody and the syntax-phonology interface, and the structural analysis and cognition of music.
I received my PhD in phonetics and phonology from MIT in 2010. My dissertation (PDF, 7 M) examines the interaction of articulatory and perceptual goals in the organization of speech timing and its interaction with systems of phonological contrast.
Here is my CV (PDF, 82 k, updated 9/2013).
Here are some papers:
- Low-boost lenition, auditory disruption, and the typology of positional neutralisation; PDF; 594 k. This paper, submitted to Phonology, proposes a radical reanalysis of lenition phenomena such as spirantization and voicing. The paper has three major arguments. First, we can distinguish between at least two different types of processes that are sometimes labeled 'lenition' on the basis of which features are affected in which positions. So, for instance, spirantization (essentially a change in continuancy) cross-linguistically tends to target intervocalic consonants while debuccalization (essentially a change in place) tends to target domain-final consonants and not intervocalic ones. Second, when we properly distinguish between various lenition processes in this way, it becomes apparent that the intervocalic type rarely or never neutralizes a phonological contrast in a language where that contrast exists in some other context. Finally, I argue that the non-neutralizing type of lenition, which is baffling from the perspective of most phonological theories, can be explained if it results from constraints on the global properties of prosodic domains rather than those of individual segments. In particular, I argue that these lenition processes result from pressure to preserve auditory continuity within prosodic domains and disrupt auditory continuity at prosodic boundaries.
- Hip-hop rhymes mirror phonological typology; PDF; 418 k. This paper, submitted to Language, uses a database of imperfect rhymes from African-American English hip-hop to examine speakers' implicit knowledge about perceptual similarity. The database reveals that voicing and major place mismatch in rhymes more frequently in contexts where contrasts for these features are more likely to neutralize cross-linguistically. This is despite the fact that these contrasts do not neutralize in all of these contexts in English. I argue that the most parsimonious account of similarities between imperfect rhyme and phonological typology is that they are both rooted in a speaker's fine-grained knowledge of contextual asymmetries in the perceptual distinctiveness of contrasts.
- Asymmetries in English vowel perception mirror compression effects; PDF; 389 k. This paper, a version of which will appear in Phonetica this year, argues that subjects' ability to identify vowels based on information contained in adjacent consonants bears a systematic relationship to patterns of duration in speech production. Specifically, contexts where previous studies have found shorter vowels correspond to contexts in which this study finds more vowel information. The proposed analysis is one in which patterns of timing in speech production are organized in part to achieve perceptual goals.
- Compression effects in English; PDF; 979 k. This paper, a later version of which was published in Journal of Phonetics, shows that the phenomenon known as compensatory shortening or compression is more complex than previously reported. In particular, the relationship of vowel duration to number of adjacent consonants is strongly influenced by the manner and position of those consonants. I argue that the most common previous analysis of vowel compression, which characterizes it as an epiphenomenon emerging from general principles of gestural coordination, is incapable of explaining these facts, and that an adequate analysis will require reference to perceptual goals.
Focus vs. Discourse-New: Evidence from Prosodic Prominence in English (w/ Elisabeth Selkirk); PDF; 1.2 M. This paper, a later version of which was published in Language, demonstrates that the general term 'Focus' conflates at least two phonetically and phonologically distinct categories in English. Items that are explicitly contrasted with something in the prior discourse display greater duration, F0 movement, and intensity relative to other material in the sentence than items that are merely new in the discourse. We argue that the results are best explained in terms of differing degrees of phrasal stress prominence, coupled with a principle for mapping information-structural categories to relative phonological prominence.
- The Identity Thesis for Language and Music (w/ David Pesetsky); available at LingBuzz. In this paper, we argue that all differences between language and music are a consequence of differences in their building blocks: arbitrary pairings of sound and meaning for language; combinations of pitch classes for music. In all other respects, the two systems are formally identical. The arguments involve syntax, prosody, the syntax-prosody interface, and head movement. We argue that all of these have formal analogs in music.