An analysis of a valenced corpus of English words revealed that words that rhyme with slurs are rated more poorly than their synonyms. What at first might seem like a bizarre coincidence turns out to be a robust feature of slurs, one arising from their phonetic structure. We report novel data on phonaesthetic preferences, showing that a particular class of phonemes are both particularly disliked, and overrepresented in slurs. We argue that phonaesthetic associations have been an overlooked source of some (...) of the more peculiar, arational aspects of slurs. We conclude by drawing broader morals about the evolution of the lexicon. (shrink)
This book provides linguists with a clear, critical, and comprehensive overview of theoretical and experimental work on information structure. Leading researchers survey the main theories of information structure in syntax, phonology, and semantics as well as perspectives from psycholinguistics and other relevant fields. Following the editors' introduction the book is divided into four parts. The first, on theories of and theoretical perspectives on information structure, includes chapters on topic, prosody, and implicature. Part 2 covers a range of current issues in (...) the field, including focus, quantification, and sign languages, while Part 3 is concerned with experimental approaches to information structure, including processes involved in its acquisition and comprehension. The final part contains a series of linguistic case studies drawn from a wide variety of the world's language families. This volume will be the standard guide to current work in information structure and a major point of departure for future research. (shrink)
Listening effort helps explain why people who are hard of hearing are prone to fatigue and social withdrawal. However, a one-factor model that cites only effort due to hardness of hearing is insufficient as there are many who lead happy lives despite their disability. This paper explores other contributory factors, in particular motivational arousal and pleasure. The theory of rational motivational arousal predicts that some people forego listening comprehension because they believe it to be impossible and hence worth no effort (...) at all. This is problematic. Why should the listening task be rated this way, given the availability of aids that reduce its difficulty? Two additional factors narrow the explanatory gap. First, we separate the listening task from the benefit derived as a consequence. The latter is temporally more distant, and is discounted as a result. The second factor is displeasure attributed to the listening task, which increases listening cost. Many who are hard of hearing enjoy social interaction. In such cases, the actual activity of listening is a benefit, not a cost. These people also reap the benefits of listening, but do not have to balance these against the displeasure of the task. It is suggested that if motivational harmony can be induced by training in somebody who is hard of hearing, then the obstacle to motivational arousal would be removed. This suggests a modified goal for health care professionals. Don’t just teach those who are hard of hearing how to use hearing assistance devices. Teach them how to do so with pleasure and enjoyment . (shrink)
During much of the past century, it was widely believed that phonemes--the human speech sounds that constitute words--have no inherent semantic meaning, and that the relationship between a combination of phonemes (a word) and its referent is simply arbitrary. Although recent work has challenged this picture by revealing psychological associations between certain phonemes and particular semantic contents, the precise mechanisms underlying these associations have not been fully elucidated. Here we provide novel evidence that certain phonemes have an inherent, non-arbitrary emotional (...) quality. Moreover, we show that the perceived emotional valence of certain phoneme combinations depends on a specific acoustic feature--namely, the dynamic shift within the phonemes' first two frequency components. These data suggest a phoneme-relevant acoustic property influencing the communication of emotion in humans, and provide further evidence against previously held assumptions regarding the structure of human language. This finding has potential applications for a variety of social, educational, clinical, and marketing contexts. (shrink)
Frost's claim that universal models of reading require linguistically diverse data is relevant and justified. We support it with evidence demonstrating the extent of the bias towards some Indo-European languages and alphabetic scripts in scientific literature. However, some of his examples are incorrect, and he neglects the complex interaction of writing system and language structure with history and cultural environment.
In this paper we purport to qualify the claim, advanced by Appelbaum (1999) that speech perception research, in the last 70 years or so, has endorsed a view on the nature of speech for which no evidence can be adduced and which has resisted falsification through active ad hoc “theoretical repair” carried by speech scientists. We show that the author’s qualms on the putative dogmatic status of speech research are utterly unwarranted, if not misconstrued as a whole. On more general (...) grounds, the present article can be understood as a work on the rather underdeveloped area of the philosophy and history of Linguistics. (shrink)
Understanding the universal aspects of human language structure requires comparison at multiple levels of analysis. While Evans & Levinson (E&L) focus mostly on substantive variation in language, equally revealing insights can come from studying formal universals. I first discuss how Artificial Grammar Experiments can test universal preferences for certain types of abstract phonological generalizations over others. I then discuss moraic onsets in the language Arrernte, and how its apparent substantive variation ultimately rests on a formal universal regarding syllable-weight sensitivity.
A recurrent issue in linguistic theory and psychology concerns the cognitive status of memorized lists and their internal structure. In morphological theory, the collections of inflected forms of a given noun, verb, or adjective into inflectional paradigms are thought to constitute one such type of list. This book focuses on the question of which elements in a paradigm can stand in a relation of partial or total phonological identity. Leading scholars consider inflectional identity from a variety of theoretical perspectives, with (...) an emphasis on both case studies and predictive theories of where syncretism and other "paradigmatic pressures" will occur in natural language. The authors consider phenomena such as allomorphy and syncretism while exploring questions of underlying representations, the formal properties of markedness, and the featural representation of conjugation and declension classes. They do so from the perspective of contemporary theories of morphology and phonology, including Distributed Morphology and Optimality Theory, and in the context of a wide range of languages, among them Amharic, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Saami, and Yiddish. The subjects addressed in the book include the role of featural decomposition of morphosyntactic features, the status of paradigms as the unit of syncretism, asymmetric effects in identity-dependence, and the selection of a base-of-derivation. The Bases of Inflectional Identity will interest linguists and cognitive scientists, especially students and scholars of phonological theory and the phonology-morphology and mind-language interfaces at graduate level and above. (shrink)
In the 1920s and 1930s, some of the most talented linguists of the Soviet Union, among whom one can highlight N.F. Jakovlev and E.D. Polivanov, were involved in the process of “language building”. Their role in the success of this process is examined from the point of view of the phonological theory that they developed for creating scripts for the numerous peoples of the Soviet Union, Turkic and Caucasian above all. Jakovlev’s phonology, that Polivanov termed “social phonology”, was very different (...) from the one that N. Trubetskoj proposed some 10 years later. We will try to explain their ambitious script projects, which remain difficult to understand from the point of view of the modern phonology. (shrink)
This volume of new work by prominent phonologists goes to the heart of current debates in phonological and linguistic theory: should the explanation of phonological variety be constraint or rule-based and, in the light of the resolution of this question, how in the mind does phonology interface with other components of the grammar. The book includes contributions from leading proponents of both sides of the argument and an extensive introduction setting out the history, nature, and more general linguistic implications of (...) current phonological theory. (shrink)
In this article we will explore the consequences of adopting recent proposals by Chomsky, according to which the syntactic derivation proceeds in terms of phases. The notion of phase – through the associated notion of spellout – allows for an insightful theory of the fact that syntactic constituents receive default phrase stress not across the board, but as a function of yet-to-be-explicated conditions on their syntactic context. We will see that the phonological evi- dence requires us to modify somewhat the (...) theory of which functional categories actually deﬁne a phase. Patterns of default, syntax-determined, phrase stress are argued to result from a prosodic spellout requiring the highest phrase in the spellout domain to correspond to a major prosodic phrase in phonological representation, and carry major phrase stress. (shrink)
This state-of-the-art guide to some of the most exciting work in current linguistics explores how the core components of the language faculty interact. It examines how these interactions are reflected in linguistic and cognitive theory, considers what they reveal about the operations of language within the mind, and looks at their reflections in expression and communication. Leading international scholars present cutting-edge accounts of developments in the interfaces between phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. They bring to bear a rich (...) variety of methods and theoretical perspectives, focus on a broad array of issues and problems, and illustrate their arguments from a wide range of the world's languages. After the editors' introduction to its structure, scope, and content, the book is divided into four parts. The first, Sound, is concerned with the interfaces between phonetics and phonology, phonology and morphology, and phonology and syntax. Part II, Structure, considers the interactions of syntax with morphology, semantics, and the lexicon, and explores the status of the word and its representional status in the mind. Part III, Meaning, revisits the syntax-semantics interface from the perspective of compositionality, and looks at issues concerned with intonation, discourse, and context. The authors in the final part of the book, General Architectural Concerns, examine work on Universal Grammar, the overall model of language, and linguistic and associated theories of language and cognition. All scholars and advanced students of language will value this book, whether they are in linguistics, cognitive science, philosophy, artificial intelligence, computational science, or informatics. (shrink)
This book investigates the nature of the relationship between phonology and syntax and proposes a theory of Minimal Indirect Reference that solves many classic problems relating to the topic. Seidl shows that all variation across languages in phonological domain size is due to syntactic differences and a single domain parameter specific to phonology.
Pulvermüller's Hebbian model implies that an impairment in the word form system will affect phonological articulation and phonological comprehension, because there is only a single representation. Clinical evidence from patients with word-form deafness demonstrates a dissociation between input and output phonologies. These data suggest that auditory comprehension and articulatory production depend on discrete phonological representations localized in different cortical networks.
A narrow focus on the jaw (or on motor generators) does not account for individual and language-specific differences in babbling and early speech. Furthermore, data from Yoshinaga-Itano's laboratory support earlier findings that show glottal rather than oral stops in deaf infants' babbling: audition is crucial for developing normal syllables.
This commentary supports MacNeilage's dismissal of an evolutionary development from sign language to spoken language but presents evidence of a feature in sign language (echo phonology) that links iconic signs to abstract vocal syllables. These data provide an insight into possible mechanism by which iconic manual gestures accompanied by vocalisation could have provided a route for the evolution of spoken language with its characteristically arbitrary form–meaning relationship.