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Review of Selected Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Spanish Phonology
EDITOR: Marta Ortega-Llebaria TITLE: Selected Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Spanish Phonology SERIES TITLE: Cascadilla Proceedings Project PUBLISHER: Cascadilla Press YEAR: 2010
Sara Candeias, Institute of Telecommunications, University of Coimbra
The Selected Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Spanish Phonology provides an important contribution to the state of the art of Spanish phonological analysis, including both European and American varieties, as well as the speech of monolinguals and bilinguals. The first two contributions are plenary talks and the others are grouped into three main domains: bilingual speech, prosody, and segments and clusters.
Plenaries Laura Bosch, in The Acquisition of Language-Specific Sound Categories from a Bilingual Input (pp. 1-10), reviews the main results obtained in phonetic discrimination and categorization studies with Spanish-Catalan and English-French bilingual infants. Current knowledge of their tuning to the specific categories in their ambient languages is summarized and the role of different factors in bilinguals' phonetic categorization and phonological representation processes is discussed. The data for this study is relatively limited and thus conditions the results achieved, as the author admits. However, differences between bilinguals and monolinguals could be interpreted as adaptive to the specific properties of their linguistic input, rather than delays in speech acquisition.
José Ignacio Hualde, in the Secondary Stress and Stress Clash in Spanish (pp. 11-19), examines the distribution of secondary stress in Spanish, focusing on the possibility of placing prominence on the syllable immediately preceding the lexically stressed syllable of the word. This possibility is not included in most previous analyses of secondary stress in Spanish. Four speakers of Peninsular Spanish participated in the experiment, reading a list of words following an auditory prompt. The data was analysed in terms of pitch, intensity and duration. Results showed that prominence was conveyed by different acoustic cues (such as the pitch accent and the durational stress) on lexically stressed and secondarily stressed syllables.
Characterizing the Speech of Bilinguals This section presented three studies of Spanish dialects spoken in bilingual environments: Dialect Differences and the Bilingual Vowel Space in Peruvian Spanish, Erin O'Rourke (pp. 20-30); Are Non-Cognate Words Phonologically Better Specified than Cognates in the Early Lexicon of Bilingual Children?, Marta Ramon-Casas and Laura Bosch (pp. 31-36); and Rating Accented Speech on Continua: Nativeness in Speech Production in Highly Proficient Bilinguals, Miquel Simonet (pp. 37-46).
In his study, O'Rourke discusses the view that the quality of Spanish vowels is relatively stable across Spanish dialects compared to consonants. He examined first and second formants (F1 and F2) of vowels from some read sentences in order to address the following research questions: ''(1) To what extent are regional differences observed in Peruvian Spanish vowels?, (2) Within the Andean region, are there differences in vowel quality according to knowledge of Quechua?, and if so, (3) Do Quechua-Spanish bilinguals organize their vowel space differently than Spanish monolinguals (e.g., in terms of spacing between vowel qualities or backness)?'' (p. 21). Statistical analyses were conducted and conclusions suggested that vowel quality in Spanish may be influenced by languages in contact, with early bilinguals behaving differently from both the Cuzco monolinguals and late bilinguals.
Marta Ramon-Casas and Laura Bosch follow up on their previous lab research showing that bilingual exposure has specific consequences for the phonological detail represented in early words. The goal was to explore the impact of the cognate status of word in Catalan-Spanish bilinguals' encoding of the /ɛ/-/e/ vowel contrast. Four target non-cognate Catalan words were used as stimulus and the procedure to explore the accuracy and precision in the word recognition was the intermodal visual fixation methodology. 48 children participated in the experiments (24 Catalan monolinguals and 24 Catalan-Spanish bilinguals). Results indicate that all the participants successfully detected the mispronunciation in non-cognate items, suggesting that cognate status does affect the detail encoded in the representation of words in bilinguals' early lexicons. The authors also suggest that phonological differences between non-cognate words may facilitate the building of more stable representations and preserve them from the effects of input variability.
The last paper of this set supports the common finding that speech performance in bilinguals is really affected both by the age of first exposure to their second language and by linguistic experience. Simonet presents a study of overall native vs. non-native accent of both Catalan-dominant and Spanish-dominant speakers in both Catalan and Spanish. Using read-aloud speech material and perceptual rating tests based on the Visual Analog Scale, he arrives at the following main conclusions: (1) ''Catalan-dominant listeners have no difficulty in robustly discriminating between Catalan-dominant and Spanish-dominant bilinguals speaking Catalan''; (2) ''Spanish-dominant listeners can robustly discriminate between Spanish-dominant and Catalan-dominant bilinguals speaking Spanish'' and (3) ''Spanish-dominant listeners had a slightly higher difficulty discriminating between Catalan-dominant and Spanish-dominant females than between Catalan-dominant and Spanish-dominant males when the talkers were speaking Spanish''(p. 43). The method to assess non-native accent on a linear, continuous scale was explained and presented as new.
Prosody This section contains four studies of prosodic constituents in Spanish dialects, including Buenos Aires Spanish, Madrilenian and Mexican: The Intonational Expression of Incredulity in Absolute Interrogatives in Buenos Aires Spanish, Su Ar Lee, Fernando MartÆnez-Gil, and Mary E. Beckman (pp. 47-56); The Perceptual Relevance of Code Switching and Intonation in Creating Narrow Focus, Daniel Olson and Marta Ortega-Llebaria (pp. 57-68); Final Lengthening and Pause Duration in Three Dialects of Spanish, Rajiv Rao (pp. 69-82); and Acoustic Comparative Study of Spanish Prosody: Mexico City vs. Madrid, Eduardo Velçzquez (pp. 83-90).
Lee, Martínez-Gil, and Beckman explore how Buenos Aires Spanish speakers express the difference between pragmatically-neutral and presumptive interrogatives, analysing 10 target questions recorded from three female speakers. Results showed that ''the difference between pragmatically-marked and pragmatically-neutral absolute interrogatives can be expressed by using an expansion of the global pitch range values or by using the contour with a falling boundary pitch movements (BPM) with a higher pitch value in the first peak and in the nuclear peak'' (p. 53).
Olson and Ortega-Llebaria look to provide empirical evidence that code switching serves to create a narrow focus interpretation, and examined the interaction of these two forms of creating narrow focus. A laboratory-based perception task with early and late Spanish-English bilinguals was conducted. The main findings indicated that (1) the code switching has a clear narrow effect, most evident in the absence of other prosodic cues; and (2) the salience of the peak alignment cue is dependent upon a sufficient pitch range.
Dealing with syllable and word duration in final position of intonation phrases (IPs) and phonological phrase (PPHs), Rao's study (1) empirically examines whether or not final lengthening does exist in Spanish in stressed and final syllables and words in phrase final position; (2) statistically showed how much lengthening occurs; (3) investigated whether pause length correlates with increased lengthening. The main results revealed that (1) final lengthening is observed in all constituents significantly across dialects at the ends of PPHs and IPs; (2) across speakers and dialects, lengthening is greatest when a short pause associated with a PPH boundary is present.
Velázquez' research attempted to identify the acoustic factors that play a role in the characterization of Madrilenian and Mexican, as well as verify the validity of empirical judgments about prosodic differences among language varieties. Using the method proposed, it is verified that Mexican speech has (1) longer syllables, (2) a lower and more regular intensity and (3) a higher-pitched voice register, compared to Madrilenian speech.
Segments and Clusters This section presented the following four studies about Spanish dialects such as Majorcan, Argentinean and Andalusian: Final Consonant Clusters in Majorcan Catalan Verbs: The Resolution of Sonority Sequence Principle Violations through Cluster Simplification, Mark Amengual and Cynthia P. Blanco (pp.91-99); The Scope of Stop Weakening in Argentine Spanish, Laura Colantoni and Irina Marinescu (pp.100-114); Acoustic Characterization of Phonemic Trill Production in Jerezano Andalusian Spanish, Nicholas C. Henriksen and Erik W. Willis (pp.115-127); Changing Perceptions: The Sociophonetic Motivations of the Labial Velar Alternation in Spanish, Natalia Mazzaro (pp.128-145).
Amengual and Blanco attempt to explain the variation between cluster simplification and cluster maintenance for the Majorcan Catalan. Clusters of up to three consonants were studied in verb forms. Performing a multivariate analysis of the data using Goldvarb X, the authors explain which extragrammatical factors affected the choice of one variant over the other, including social and linguistic variables. The results achieved showed that there is a tendency for MC speakers to simplify clusters.
Colantoni and Marinescu pick up on previous work and explore some acoustic correlates of lenition, analysing the status of CV intensity-ratio, duration and percentage voicing in Argentine Spanish. The results achieved proposed that both phonological and phonetic factors should be considered in order to account for lenition processes. In fact, it was shown that there are: (1) clear place asymmetries in lenition process; (2) no evidence of lenition of voiceless stops; (3) some support for perceptual accounts of lenition; (4) the need of integrating articulatory constraints into a model of lenition, presenting evidence of the role of tongue-coarticulation.
Henriksen and Willis' study examined the extent to which the articulation of the Spanish phonemic trill is subject to variation in unscripted speech samples taken from 16 native speakers of Andalusian Spanish. The main results indicate that acoustic findings have implications for phonetics, phonology, dialectal studies, and sociolinguistics. In fact, given the findings of the current investigation described (e.g. no single non-canonical variant could be selected as the prototypical one), trill variation is shown to be considerably more complex than had previously been suspected.
Mazzaro investigated the acoustic and perceptual motivations of the labial velar alternation in a diverse set of Spanish dialects. By analysing data from sociolinguistic interviews and production and perception experiments, the aim was to study both the causes and the propagation of the linguistic phenomenon. With the present study, the author explained the perceptual and acoustic motivations of the labial-velar alternation emphasising that the science of linguistics advances by examining the language in its social and cultural context.
EVALUATION This book is representative of the state of the art of laboratory approaches to Spanish phonology and all the contributions are contribute to Spanish linguistics, given that a range of varieties were analysed. At the same time it presents a variety of approaches taken with respect to how phonetics influences phonology. Most of the studies tested their hypotheses by means of phonetic experiments, using PRAAT, which complements more traditional approaches. The papers thus follow the line of linguistic research that linguistic theories should be implementable.
However, a possible weakness of this research is that most of the data was collected from a small group of informants (some studies draw data from 3, 4 or 6 speakers) the phenomena analysed could be broadened by further complementary verification. Although access to higher technology can still be difficult, it would be useful to extend the studies using speak recognition techniques, such as automatic phone recognition. Based on a larger database and using complementary methods of analysis on speech processing, the research presented here could further linguistic analysis and reinforce developing linguistic science technologies, which allow a more natural human-machine interaction.
In my view, strategies that can support or accelerate efforts to develop speech resources need to include sets of phonological rules. The studies presented in this book, following the suggestions, could be regarded as an important step in that direction.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Sara Candeias is a postdoctoral researcher in linguistics in the Speech Lab
of the Institute Telecommunications at the University of Coimbra
(http://lsi.co.it.pt/spl/index.htm). Her primary research areas are
varieties of Portuguese and the development of grapheme-to-phone conversion
systems, using multiple pronunciations, as well as phonetic and functional
approaches to phonology and the improvement of speech technology based on
linguistic knowledge. She is also studying hesitations (such as filled
pauses, extensions and repetitions) to describe events and to incorporate
them into automatic recognition of newscasters' speech, work supported by
European and Portuguese grants. She is also beginning work on automatic
speaker recognition for forensic evidence evaluation, with the Forensic Voi