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Review of  Laboratory Phonology 7

Reviewer: Gunnar Ólafur Hansson
Book Title: Laboratory Phonology 7
Book Author: Natasha L. Warner Carlos Gussenhoven
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Issue Number: 14.935

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Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 18:40:47 -0600
From: Gunnar Olafur Hansson
Subject: Laboratory Phonology 7

Gussenhoven, Carlos and Natasha Warner, eds. (2002) Laboratory
Phonology 7, Mouton de Gruyter, Phonology and Phonetics 4 (1).

Gunnar Olafur Hansson, University of Chicago.


The volume under review contains a selection of papers presented at
the 7th Conference on Laboratory Phonology (Nijmegen, 2000). It is
also the first LabPhon volume to appear under a new publisher, and
that change seems to have been beneficial in several respects. Unlike
most of its predecessors, this LabPhon volume is available in
paperback, which makes it far more affordable, especially to
students. Secondly, the delay between the conference itself and the
appearance of the proceedings -- a common source of dissatisfaction
about earlier volumes (see, e.g., Marija Tabain's review of LabPhon 5
in -- has been reduced
considerably. In fact, the current volume appeared several months
ahead of the immediately preceding one in the series. A further
improvement over previous LabPhon volumes is that every paper
(except for the commentaries) is now accompanied by an abstract
summarizing the topic under investigation and the findings reported.

The collection of papers is divided into two parts, the first dealing
with phonological issues from a psycholinguistic perspective ("Part
I: Phonological Processing and Encoding"), and the second addressing
the phonetics-phonology relationship more generally ("Part II: In the
Laboratory and in the Field: Relating Phonetics and Phonology"). As
in earlier LabPhon volumes, the individual contributions are
organized into blocks of 3-5 papers, where each block is followed by
a commentary article.

Within Part I, the first block of articles deals with issues related
to phonological encoding in production, i.e. the retrieval of
phonological forms from the lexicon and the construction of surface
representations. Daniel Jurafsky, Alan Bell & Cynthia Girand ("The
role of the lemma in form variation") use corpus-based statistical
methods to investigate whether phonetic variation can be directly
sensitive to lemma distinctions--e.g., in cases like infinitival vs.
prepositional "to", where two separate lemmas share the same
phonological form. Niels O. Schiller, Albert Costa & Angels Colome
("Phonological encoding of single words: In search of the lost
syllable") critically evaluate the masked priming paradigm as a
method for testing the role of syllables as units of phonological
encoding. Vincent J. van Heuven & Judith Haan ("Temporal distribution
of interrogativity markers in Dutch: A perceptual study") use a
gating task with synthesized Dutch intonation patterns to investigate
the temporal development of cues signalling the statement vs.
question contrast in Dutch. This is followed by a commentary article
by Willem Levelt ("Phonological encoding in speech production") which,
among other things, includes a very brief historical overview of the
study of phonological encoding and the various experimental paradigms
that have been developed in that area.

The next block consists of five articles addressing issues of
phonological processing. In the first of these, Janet B.
Pierrehumbert ("Word-specific phonetics") outlines an exemplar-based
model of speech production designed, in part, to cope with
word-specific phonetic detail; her proposal is discussed below. Danny
R. Moates, Zinny S. Bond & Verna Stockmal ("Phoneme frequency in spoken
word reconstruction") explore the effect of phoneme frequency in word
reconstruction tasks--adjusting a single segment to convert a nonword
into a word--to test whether frequency can account for the greater
"mutability" of vowels than consonants in such tasks. Haruo Kubozono
("Temporal neutralisation in Japanese") documents the pervasive
neutralization of vowel length contrasts in word-final position in
Japanese, both in phonological processes and in auditory perception,
and shows in a series of experiments how the same effect is also
found in perception of speech by visual stimuli alone. Sharon
Peperkamp & Emmanuel Dupoux ("A typological study of stress
'deafness'") demonstrate how speakers of different languages with
non-contrastive stress systems differ in their ability to perceive
stress contrasts, and outline an explanation in terms of a particular
timeline of language acquisition. Ann R. Bradlow ("Confluent talker-
and listener-oriented forces in clear speech production")
investigates the extent of coarticulation in hyperarticulated speech,
as well as the question of whether hyperarticulation is "global" or
relativized based on such listener-oriented factors as perceptual
confusability. A commentary article by Ann Cutler ("Phonological
processing") concludes this block of papers.

Part II is a somewhat more heterogeneous collection of studies
dealing with the relationship between phonetics and phonology broadly
speaking, organized into three blocks. The first consists of four
articles investigating various aspects of the phonetics-phonology
interface. George N. Clements & Sylvester Osu ("Explosives,
implosives, and nonexplosives: the phonological function of air
pressure differences in stops") investigate the phonetics and
phonology of a class of segments they call "nonobstruent
stops"--including, e.g., implosives and laryngealized stops--and
report on an articulatory and acoustic study of two such segments in
Ikwere which appear to defy traditional phonetic classification.
Maria-Josep Sole ("Assimilatory processes and aerodynamic factors")
investigates the assimilation of lingual fricatives to apical trills,
and explores the role of aerodynamic constraints in accounting for
these and other assimilations involving fricatives. Sonia Frota
("Tonal association and target alignment in European Portuguese
nuclear falls") presents acoustic evidence suggesting that nuclear
falls in Portuguese declarative intonation are to be treated as
bitonal pitch accents (HL) rather than as transition effects, and
investigates the timing relationship between the two components of
such bitonal accents. Ioana Chitoran, Louis Goldstein & Dani Byrd
("Gestural overlap and recoverability: Articulatory evidence from
Georgian") use a magnetometric production study of Georgian stop-stop
clusters to test (and confirm) the hypothesis that the extent of
gestural overlap in such clusters is dependent on the perceptual
recoverability of C1--and thus, indirectly, on such factors as
position within the word and place-of-articulation sequencing. Bruce
Hayes, in his commentary article ("The phonetics-phonology
interface"), takes up some of the questions left unanswered by
Chitoran et al., and conjectures that some of the Georgian stop-stop
clusters may in fact be produced with an egressive velaric airstream

The next block consists of papers that are either studies based on
fieldwork or that address general questions of how phonetic data
gathered in the field can be used to test phonological theories. In
the first of these, Didier Demolin ("The search for primitives in
phonology and the explanation of sound patterns: The contribution of
fieldwork studies") takes as his point of departure the hypothesis
that phonology is emergent and derived from phonetics (cf. Lindblom
2000), and shows several examples of how fieldwork data from
underdescribed languages can be brought to bear on this hypothesis.
The remaining three articles all deal with prosodic phenomena, using
fieldwork data to call into question traditional categories and
typological classifications in this domain. Esther Grabe & Ee Ling
Low ("Acoustic correlates of rhythm class") question the rhythmic
classification of languages as either stress-timed, syllable-timed or
mora-timed, using measurements of durational variability in the
acoustic signal that do not refer to phonological constructs such as
"syllable" or "stressed syllable"; they find that many hitherto
unclassified languages are intermediate between the traditional
categories. Jose I. Hualde, Gorka Elordieta, Inaki Gaminde & Rajka
Smiljanic ("From pitch accent to stress accent in Basque") question
the categoriality of the typological distinction between pitch-accent
and stress languages, showing how western dialects of Basque
constitute a continuum along this dimension. Bert Remijsen
("Lexically contrastive stress accent and lexical tone in Ma'ya")
uses phonological and acoustic analysis to argue that Ma'ya, an
endangered Austronesian language, displays a previously unattested
combination of a (three-way) lexical tone contrast and a lexical
stress contrasts. The section is concluded with a commentary article
by W. Leo Wetzels ("Field work and phonological theory").

The final block consists of a single article by Aditi Lahiri &
Henning Reetz ("Underspecified recognition"), followed by a
commentary article by Dafydd Gibbon ("Speech recognition"). In their
paper, Lahiri & Reetz develop a model of the lexicon that makes
crucial use of abstract, featurally underspecificied phonological
representations. They support their model with evidence from
historical change, language comprehension experiments and, most
importantly, its performance when implemented computationally in an
automatic speech recognition system.


The individual contributions that make up this volume are so numerous
and so diverse that it is impossible to do justice to all of them
beyond the brief descriptions given above. Here I will only mention
in somewhat more detail two papers which, in my mind, stand out due
to the scope of the issues they address and their implications.

The first of these is Didier Demolin's article on the contribution of
empirical fieldwork to the search for primitives and first principles
in phonology. This paper is quite programmatic in character; Demolin
is a strong advocate of the "emergent phonology" approach (see, e.g.,
Ohala 1990; Lindblom 2000). This approach sees the fundamental units
and processes of phonology as deductively derived from independent
premises anchored in physical and physiological realities. Demolin
argues that experimental research "in the field" on uncommon sound
patterns can be brought to bear on this hypothesis. He surveys a
wealth of fascinating phenomena from relatively underdescribed
languages to demonstrate their dependence on aerodynamic principles
as well as on principles relating acoustic output to vocal tract
shape and to auditory representation. Sound patterns involving
ejective fricatives in Amharic and bilabial trills in Mangbetu are
shown to be critically shaped by aerodynamic constraints. The rich
vowel inventory of Nuer is used to test principles of maximal
dispersion, and it is demonstrated that several factors, physical as
well as physiological, converge to account for the distribution of
vowels in acoustic space. Vowelless syllables in Lendu (specifically
ones where the nucleus is a sibilant), and sound changes involving
clicks in Khoisan languages, confirm the important role played by
perceptual and auditory factors in phonological patterning. A final
question addressed by Demolin is that of the cognitive representation
of sound patterns, and the psychological reality of such constructs
as syllables, features, etc. Complex word game permutation patterns
in Hendo (an unwritten language) are mentioned as a potential
challenge to the claim that awareness of segments/phonemes is
dependent on familiarity of an alphabetic writing system; however, it
turns out that a quasi-alphabetic (and even feature-based!) system of
color symbols is in fact used to teach the word games during
initiation rites. This last part of Demolin's article is perhaps the
weakest; as pointed out by Wetzels in his commentary, many of the
operations typical of word games, such as infixation and the
reduplication of constituents of various sizes, do exist as
grammatical operations in languages, written and unwritten.

Janet Pierrehumbert's article on word-specific phonetics challenges
many commonly-held views (at least among phonologists) about the
nature and amount of phonetic information that goes into lexical
representations. Unlike in the heyday of structuralist and
classical-generative phonology, it has by now become generally
accepted that a great deal of fine-grained phonetic detail is
language-specific, thus necessitating at least something like a
"phonetic implementation" component in the phonological systems of
individual languages. What many recent studies have brought to light,
however, is that the patterning of such allophonic detail is not as
across-the-board as it originally appeared, but that much of it is in
fact specific to individual words in the lexicon. Pierrehumbert
discusses how such phenomena can be straightforwardly accounted for
by an exemplar-based model of speech production. In such a model,
each word is associated with its own frequency distribution over
phonetic outcomes; these "clouds" of exemplars, stored in long-term
memory, are continuously and incrementally updated based on
experience, which allows word-specific allophonic detail to accrue
over time. There are two aspects of Pierrehumbert's proposal which
are particularly significant. The first is the general idea of
extending exemplar theory, which was originally developed for speech
perception, to the domain of speech production. The second has to do
with a problem that immediately arises in a simple model where words
activate exemplar clouds directly, rather than mediated by
decomposition into phonological units. The long-term results of such
a system would be arbitrary dispersion across phonetic hyperspace,
rather than the systematicity and granularity that is so
characteristic of both synchronic phonological systems and of
(Neogrammarian) diachronic sound changes. Pierrehumbert's solution is
to develop a hybrid model which uses an intermediate level of
phonological encoding and buffering, where a phonological parse is
assigned; the contents of this representation probabilistically evoke
regions of the exemplar space as production goals. In this model,
word-specific effects are second-order phenomena: rather than
providing holistic production goals, words are able to bias
productions. One of the virtues of the model is that it
straightforwardly accounts for cases of "allophonic transfer" between
morphologically related forms (see, e.g., Steriade 2000).

To conclude, this latest volume in the Laboratory Phonology series is
a highly impressive collection of studies on a wide variety of
topics, contributing to our understanding of the relationship not
only between phonetics and phonology but also between each of these
and the psycholinguistic domains of encoding and processing. It is
worth emphasizing that laboratory phonology is not a theoretical
framework in the usual sense; rather, it is "a coalition amongst
groups of people, with some working in one or another of the various
current frameworks, and others working in no phonological framework
at all" (Pierrehumbert et al. 2000:279). As a consequence, it is not
uncommon to find inherently conflicting or contradictory proposals
within the laboratory phonology literature. This volume is no
exception; for example, it is hard to see how Lahiri & Reetz' model,
where lexical representations are heavily underspecified (and couched
in discrete phonological features), can possibly be reconciled with
exemplar-based models of perception and production such as the one
advocated by Pierrehumbert. Similarly, there are no doubt many
"laboratory phonologists" who would disagree with Clements & Osu's
decision to account for the behavior of nonexplosive stops in terms
of a new binary phonological feature [+/-obstruent]. What the "genre"
of laboratory phonology studies does have as its common denominator,
however, is the belief that careful experimental methodology,
explicit mathematical modelling (typically in terms of continuous
rather than discrete mathematics), and cumulation of results can and
will strengthen the scientific foundations of phonology as a
discipline. The respect and citation record that the LabPhon series
has attained, during the sixteen years since its inception, is ample
attestation to the vitality and viability of this research paradigm.


Lindblom, B. 2000. Developmental origins of adult phonology: The
interplay between phonetic emergents and the evolutionary adaptations
of sound patterns. Phonetica 57, 297-314.

Ohala, J. 1990. The phonetics and phonology of aspects of
assimilation. In J. Kingston & M. Beckman (eds.), Papers in
Laboratory Phonology I: Between the Grammar and the Physics of
Speech, pp. 258-275. Cambridge: CUP.

Pierrehumbert, J., Beckman, M. & Ladd, R. 2000. Conceptual
foundations of phonology as a laboratory science. In N.
Burton-Roberts, P. Carr & G. Docherty (eds.), Phonological Knowledge:
Conceptual and Empirical Issues, pp. 273-303. Oxford: OUP.

Steriade, D. 2000. Paradigm uniformity and the phonetics-phonology
interface. In M. Broe & J. Pierrehumbert (eds.), Papers in Laboratory
Phonology V: Acquisition and the Lexicon, pp. 313-335. Cambridge: CUP.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER Gunnar Olafur Hansson is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of California, Berkeley, with a dissertation entitled "Theoretical and typological issues in consonant harmony". The focus of his research is on theoretical phonology; specific areas of interest include harmony systems, derivationally opaque sound patterns, the phonetics-phonology and morphology-phonology interfaces, and diachronic processes of phonologization and morphologization.