Recent news

Welcome to summer labbies!

By PAMLab
May 18th, 2017 in Students, Visitors.

Welcome to the eleven students, and one recent graduate, who will be joining the lab this summer:

  • Kun Cao is a rising senior majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Her interests are in the linguistics and acquisition of Chinese.
  • Juno Dong (interning from May 23 to August 4) is a rising senior majoring in Global Studies and French at Colby College. Her interests are in language acquisition and bilingualism.
  • Christy Eichlin is a rising senior majoring in English and French. Her interests are in French linguistics and phonology.
  • Emily Fisher (interning from May 23 to August 25) is a rising sophomore majoring in Linguistics at Georgetown University. Her interests are in Chinese linguistics and acquisition.
  • Kendra Hennegen is an incoming graduate student in the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences program. Her interests are in language acquisition, cultural communication differences, multilingualism, and communication disorders.
  • Xinwen Hu is a second-year graduate student in the Applied Linguistics MA program. Her interests are in second language acquisition, bilingualism, phonetics, and the relationship between music and language learning.
  • Katie Martin (interning from June 5 to August 4) is a rising senior majoring in Linguistics at Yale University. Her interests are in language acquisition, multilingualism, language preservation, and experimental linguistics.
  • Abigail Ripin is a rising sophomore majoring in French and Linguistics. She is interested in dialect variation, language contact, multilingualism, and language disorders.
  • Kevin Samejon (interning from June 15 to August 31) is a recent graduate of the Applied Linguistics MA program at Biola University. His interests are in language acquisition and processing, bi-/multilingualism, psycholinguistics, and phonetics and phonology.
  • Sharmaine Sun is a rising junior majoring in Linguistics and International Relations. She is interested in sociolinguistics.
  • Amira Yazghi is a rising sophomore majoring in Health Sciences and minoring in Psychology. Her interests are in language acquisition, language variation, and language change.
  • Wayne Yoon is a rising senior majoring in Linguistics. He is interested in theoretical syntax and bilingualism.

Congrats to UROP grant recipients

By PAMLab
March 23rd, 2017 in Awards, Congratulations, Grants, Students.

Congratulations to Sharmaine Sun and Kathryn Turner, who were awarded Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grants to work on research in the lab in Summer 2017! Below are brief descriptions of the projects they will be working on:

  • Sharmaine Sun: “Language use and perceptions of Asian Bostonians”

Sharmaine will be working on a sociophonetic research project with two components: (1) examining features of English and heritage languages spoken by Asian Americans, across a range of ethnicities and life histories in the U.S., and (2) testing the perception, by both Asian and non-Asian American listeners, of Asian racial/ethnic identity in the speech of Asian American English users. Sharmaine will be involved in both the collection and the analysis of pilot data on this project.

  • Kathryn Turner: “Development of speech production in Korean-English bilingual children”

Kathryn will be continuing her work on a project comparing the speech production of young children acquiring both Korean and English with that of age-matched children acquiring only one of these languages. The goal of this project is to better understand how bilingual children differ from monolingual children with respect to the arc of their language development. Kathryn will contribute to the acoustic analysis of audio recordings from an elicited production task with 3- and 5-year-old children, focusing on fricative production.

Welcome to new lab members!

By PAMLab
January 22nd, 2017 in Students.

Welcome to the five students who will be working on research in the lab this semester:

  • Megan Brown is a first-year graduate student in the Applied Linguistics MA program. Her interests are in second language acquisition, bilingualism, syntax, and second language education.
  • I Lei (Vicky) Chan is a second-year graduate student in the Applied Linguistics MA program. Her interests are in first and second language acquisition, bilingualism, language perception, and research on tone languages.
  • Malav Dave is a freshman majoring in Human Physiology (SAR) and minoring in Linguistics. He is interested in the relationship between language and human physiology as well as language acquisition.
  • Brenden Layte is a second-year graduate student in the Applied Linguistics MA program. His interests are in bilingualism, psycholinguistics, language variation, autobiographical memory, and second language acquisition.
  • Kathryn Turner is a senior majoring in Linguistics in the joint BA/MA program. She is interested in phonology, bilingualism, and Mandarin Chinese.

Congrats to UROP grant recipient

By PAMLab
January 22nd, 2017 in Awards, Congratulations, Grants, Students.

Congratulations to Kathryn Turner, who was awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grant to work on research in the lab in Spring 2017! Below is a brief description of the project she will be working on:

  • Kathryn Turner: “Development of speech production in Korean-English bilingual children”

Kathryn will be comparing the speech production of young children acquiring both Korean and English with that of age-matched children acquiring only one of these languages. The goal of this project is to better understand how bilingual children differ from monolingual children with respect to the arc of their language development. Kathryn will contribute to the acoustic analysis of audio recordings from an elicited production task with 10-year-old children, focusing on fricative production.

Paper on tone learning aptitude in Language Learning

By PAMLab
November 23rd, 2016 in Publications.

A research article entitled “Pitch ability as an aptitude for tone learning” (Bowles, Chang & Karuzis, 2016) has been published in the December issue of Language Learning.

Abstract: Tone languages such as Mandarin use voice pitch to signal lexical contrasts, presenting a challenge for second/foreign language (L2) learners whose native languages do not use pitch in this manner. The present study examined components of an aptitude for mastering L2 lexical tone. Native English speakers with no previous tone language experience completed a Mandarin word learning task, as well as tests of pitch ability, musicality, L2 aptitude, and general cognitive ability. Pitch ability measures improved predictions of learning performance beyond musicality, L2 aptitude, and general cognitive ability and also predicted transfer of learning to new talkers. In sum, although certain nontonal measures help predict successful tone learning, the central components of tonal aptitude are pitch-specific perceptual measures.

This study was published with supporting information (appendices), which can be viewed here.

Jimmy Sbordone at UROP symposium

By PAMLab
October 21st, 2016 in Conferences, Students.

Jimmy Sbordone (CAS ’18) with his e-poster (“Comparison of Northern Pomo and Southeastern Pomo Sound Inventories”) at the Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, hosted by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Jimmy worked in the PAMLab on Southeastern Pomo audio analysis in Spring 2016 and with mentor Cathy O’Connor in Summer 2016. Great job, Jimmy!jimmysbordonebuurop

Welcome to Dr. Kwon!

By PAMLab
September 1st, 2016 in Visitors.

Welcome to Dr. Sungmi Kwon, Associate Professor in the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Pukyong National University (부경대학교) in Korea, who will be a Visiting Researcher in the lab for 2016-17. Dr. Kwon’s area of specialty is interlanguage Korean phonetics and phonology. During her visit, she will be working on research projects investigating L2 perception and production of Korean.

Paper on Mandarin tone in Heritage Language Journal

By PAMLab
August 31st, 2016 in Publications.

A research article entitled “Toward an understanding of heritage prosody: Acoustic and perceptual properties of tone produced by heritage, native, and second language speakers of Mandarin” (Chang & Yao, 2016) has been published in the August issue of the Heritage Language Journal.

Abstract: In previous work examining heritage language phonology, heritage speakers have often patterned differently from native speakers and late-onset second language (L2) learners with respect to overall accent and segmentals. The current study extended this line of inquiry to suprasegmentals, comparing the properties of lexical tones produced by heritage, native, and L2 speakers of Mandarin living in the U.S. We hypothesized that heritage speakers would approximate native norms for Mandarin tones more closely than L2 speakers, yet diverge from these norms in one or more ways. We further hypothesized that, due to their unique linguistic experience, heritage speakers would sound the most ambiguous in terms of demographic background. Acoustic data showed that heritage speakers approximated native-like production more closely than L2 speakers with respect to the pitch contour of Tone 3, durational shortening in connected speech, and rates of Tone 3 reduction in non-phrase-final contexts, while showing the highest levels of tonal variability among all groups. Perceptual data indicated that heritage speakers’ tones differed from native and L2 speakers’ in terms of both intelligibility and perceived goodness. Consistent with the variability results, heritage speakers were the most difficult group to classify demographically. Taken together, these findings suggest that, with respect to tone, early heritage language experience can, but does not necessarily, result in a phonological advantage over L2 learners. Further, they add support to the view that heritage speakers are language users distinct from both native and L2 speakers.

This study is a follow-up to Chang, Yao, Haynes, and Rhodes (2011).

Paper on bilingual perception in Bilingualism

By PAMLab
July 9th, 2016 in Publications.

A research article entitled “Bilingual perceptual benefits of experience with a heritage language” (Chang, 2016) has been published in the August issue of Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.

Abstract: Research on the linguistic knowledge of heritage speakers has been concerned primarily with the advantages conferred by heritage language experience in production, perception, and (re)learning of the heritage language. Meanwhile, second-language speech research has begun to investigate potential benefits of first-language transfer in second-language performance. Bridging these two bodies of work, the current study examined the perceptual benefits of heritage language experience for heritage speakers of Korean in both the heritage language (Korean) and the dominant language (American English). It was hypothesized that, due to their early bilingual experience and the different nature of unreleased stops in Korean and American English, heritage speakers of Korean would show not only native-like perception of Korean unreleased stops, but also better-than-native perception of American English unreleased stops. Results of three perception experiments were consistent with this hypothesis, suggesting that benefits of early heritage language experience can extend well beyond the heritage language.

Paper on bilingualism and sound change in Language

By PAMLab
June 15th, 2016 in Publications.

A research article entitled “On the cognitive basis of contact-induced sound change: Vowel merger reversal in Shanghainese” (Yao & Chang, 2016) has been published in the June issue of Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America.

Abstract: This study investigates the source and status of a recent sound change in Shanghainese (Wu, Sinitic) that has been attributed to language contact with Mandarin. The change involves two vowels, /e/ and /ɛ/, reported to be merged three decades ago but produced distinctly in contemporary Shanghainese. Results of two production experiments show that speaker age, language mode (monolingual Shanghainese vs. bilingual Shanghainese-Mandarin), and crosslinguistic phonological similarity all influence the production of these vowels. These findings provide evidence for language contact as a linguistic means of merger reversal and are consistent with the view that contact phenomena originate from cross-language interaction within the bilingual mind.

Note that this article is accompanied by online appendices, located here.