Research

Research interests

  • Representation and learning of morphophonological alternation
  • Structure of paradigms
  • Phonology of Seediq (Atayalic, Austronesian)
  • Phonetics and phonology of Mam vowels

Projects

In Tgdaya Seediq, all forms of a verb paradigm suffer from some type of neutralization, such that no slot can be used to perfectly predeict the rest of the paradigm. Classic approaches to morphophonological analysis deal with this by setting up URs which combine information from multiple forms of the paradigm (Kenstowicz and Kisseberth, 1977). The alternate single surface-base approach, proposed by Albright (2002, et seq.), argues that URs must be based on a single slot (or suface allomorph) within the paradigm. For my MA , I used a corpus of verbs to show that Seediq verb paradigms have likely undergone restructuring based on the non-suffixed slots of the paradigm, consistent with the single surface-base hypothesis.

To test whether Seediq speakers will productively 'undo' neutralizations of non-suffixed base forms, I am utilizing a variant of the wug-test method (Berko, 1958); stimuli were not nonce-words, but rather ‘gapped forms’, or existing words in the Seediq lexicon which are never found in their suffixed forms. This method, though less common than wug-testing, was used out of respect for my Seediq consultants, who for cultural reasons did not want to work with nonce words.

Early results, based on pilot experiment with six subjects, suggest that speakers are able to productively extend some alternations.


I am working with James Stanford at Dartmouth College and Cathryn Yang at Yunnan Minzu University on sociolinguistic variation in Na (or Mosuo). Na is a rural language community with ~40,000 people, located mainly around Lugu Lake in Yunnan and Sichuan. The Na practice matrilineal inheritance with lifelong matrilocal residence. As such, variation in Na is of particular theoretical interest for examining Labov's classic gender principles of sound change (e.g., Labov 1966, 2001, Trudgill 1972, Wolfram 1969).

Preliminary results, based on word-list reading from 48 speakers, suggests that consistent with Labovian principles, Na women are leading sound changes in tone and vowel quality.