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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of Linguistics

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This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by Berkeley Linguistics researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

Cover page of The Relationship between Non-Native Perception and Phonological Patterning of Implosive Consonants

The Relationship between Non-Native Perception and Phonological Patterning of Implosive Consonants


This study uses non-native perception data to examine the relationship between perceived phonetic similarity of segments and their phonological patterning. Segments that are phonetically similar to one another are anticipated to pattern together phonologically, and segments that share articulatory or acoustic properties are also expected to be perceived as similar. What is not yet clear is whether segments that pattern together phonologically are perceived as similar. This study addresses this question by examining how L1 English listeners and L1 Guébie listeners perceive non-native implosive consonants compared with plosives and sonorants. English does not have contrastive implosives, whereas Guébie has a bilabial implosive. The bilabial implosive phonologically patterns with sonorants in Guébie, to the exclusion of obstruents. Two perception experiments show English listeners make more perceptual categorization errors between implosives and voiced plosives than Guébie listeners do, but both listener groups are more likely to classify implosives as similar to voiced plosives than sonorants. The results also show that Guébie listeners are better at categorizing non-native implosive consonants (i.e., alveolar implosives) than English listeners, showing that listeners are able to extend features or gestures from their L1 to non-native implosive consonants. The results of these experiments suggest a cross-linguistic perceptual similarity hierarchy of implosives compared with other segments that are not affected by L1 phonological patterning.

Cover page of Phylogenetic classification supports a Northeastern Amazonian Proto-Tupí-Guaraní Homeland

Phylogenetic classification supports a Northeastern Amazonian Proto-Tupí-Guaraní Homeland


The question of where Proto-Tupí-Guaraní (PTG) was spoken has been a point of considerable debate. Both northeastern and southwestern Amazonian homelands having been proposed, with evidence from both archaeology and linguistic classification playing key roles in this debate. In this paper we demonstrate that the application of linguistic migration theory to a recent phylogenetic classification of the Tupí-Guaraní family lends strong support to a northeastern Amazonian homeland.

Cover page of Bilingualism as a risk factor for false reports of stuttering in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K:2011).

Bilingualism as a risk factor for false reports of stuttering in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K:2011).


INTRODUCTION: Bilingualism has historically been claimed to be a risk factor for developmental stuttering. The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011) ostensibly contains evidence to test that claim. METHODS: We analyze data from monolingual and bilingual children in Kindergarten through fifth grade in the ECLS-K:2011. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The prevalence, male/female ratio, and onset and recovery of reported stuttering in the ECLS are inconsistent with widely-accepted clinical reports of stuttering. We argue that the reported figures may be misleading. We discuss some factors that may inflate the reported prevalence, including a lack of awareness of the difference between stuttering vs. normal disfluencies, and the informal usage of the word stuttering on the part of teachers and parents to describe typical disfluencies.

Cover page of A Challenge to Whole-word Phonology? A Study of Japanese and Mandarin

A Challenge to Whole-word Phonology? A Study of Japanese and Mandarin


Phonological models of early word learning often assume that child forms can be understood as structural mappings from their adult targets. In contrast, the whole-word phonology model suggests that on beginning word production children represent adult targets as holistic units, reflecting not the exact sound sequence but only the most perceptually salient elements or those that align with their own vocal patterns. Here we ask whether the predictions of the whole-word model are supported by data from children learning Japanese or Mandarin, both languages with phonotactic structures differing from any so far investigated from this perspective. The Japanese child word forms are found to include some characteristics suggestive of whole-word representation, but in Mandarin we find little or no such evidence. Instead, some children are found to make idiosyncratic use of whole syllables, substituting them for target syllables that they match in neither onset nor rime. This result, which neither model anticipates, forces reconsideration of a key tenet of the whole-word model–that early word production is based on word-size holistic representations; instead, at least in some languages, the syllable may serve as the basic representational unit for child learners.

Two grammars of A’ingae glottalization: A case for Cophonologies by Phase


Abstract: This paper describes and analyzes phonological processes pertinent to the glottal stop in A’ingae (or Cofán, iso 639-3: ). The operations which the glottal stops undergo and trigger reveal an interaction of two morphophonological parameters: stratum and stress dominance. First, verbal suffixes are organized in two morphophonological domains, or strata. Within the inner domain, glottal stops affect stress placement, which I analyze as an interaction with foot structure. In the outer domain, glottal stops do not have any effects on stress. Second, some verbal suffixes delete stress (i. e. they are dominant). Dominance is unpredictable and independent of the suffix’s morphophonological domain, but dominance and the phonological domain interact in a non-trivial way: only inner dominant suffixes delete glottalization. To account for the A’ingae data, I adopt Cophonologies by Phase (Sande et al. 2020), which (i) models phonological stratification while (ii) allowing for morpheme-specific phonological idiosyncrasies, which (iii) interact with the phonological grammar of their stratum. Stress deletion triggered by the dominant suffixes is modeled with AntiFaithfulness (Alderete 1999, 2001). Antifaithfulness to a metrical foot entails antifaithfulness to its features (glottalization). This captures the fact that only the inner dominant suffixes delete glottal stops.

The evolution of color naming reflects pressure for efficiency: Evidence from the recent past


Abstract: It has been proposed that semantic systems evolve under pressure for efficiency. This hypothesis has so far been supported largely indirectly, by synchronic cross-language comparison, rather than directly by diachronic data. Here, we directly test this hypothesis in the domain of color naming, by analyzing recent diachronic data from Nafaanra, a language of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and comparing it with quantitative predictions derived from the mathematical theory of efficient data compression. We show that color naming in Nafaanra has changed over the past four decades while remaining near-optimally efficient, and that this outcome would be unlikely under a random drift process that maintains structured color categories without pressure for efficiency. To our knowledge, this finding provides the first direct evidence that color naming evolves under pressure for efficiency, supporting the hypothesis that efficiency shapes the evolution of the lexicon.

Cover page of Arawak Linguistics and Max Schmidt’s Account of Arawak Expansion

Arawak Linguistics and Max Schmidt’s Account of Arawak Expansion


The following is a piece that I wrote far back in 2008 as I was finishing my dissertation and starting up as an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley. I was invited to write it as one of a number of commentaries for a new edition of Max Schmidt's 1917 work "Die Aruaken. Ein Beitrag zum Problem der Kulturverbreitung" [The Arawak: A Contribution to the Problem of Cultural Dissemination]. The volume ended up never being published, but over the years a number of people have asked me for this piece and it has been cited in a number of works on Arawakan history and ethnography. I've decided to make it publicly available for those who may be interested.