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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The PhonLab Annual Report is a pre-publication archive of research done in the UC Berkeley Phonetics and Phonology Lab. 


Head correction of point tracking data

This is a short paper comparing two approaches to head correction for Electro-MagneticArticulography (EMA) data collected with the Northern Digital Instruments “Wave” system. Inboth of these approaches, it is necessary to translate and rotate the sensor locations to theocclusal coordinate system. We found that point tracking error is greater by as much as doublewith the built-in NDI head correction method, compared to a three-sensor head correctionalgorithm. However, we conclude that the data are comparable, and that the two-sensor NDImethod is acceptable for phonetic research. A Python library for head correction was developedfor this work, and is available on

Articulatory patterns in contrasting nasal-stop sequences in Panãra

The goal of this paper is to describe the articulatory properties of Panãra [NT] sequences that  arise from prenasalization and postoralization, including the relative timing of the oral, glottal, and velic gestures in the two types of [NT] sequences.

Cross-linguistic f0 differences in bilingual speakers of English and Korean

Languages may differ in fundamental frequency of voicing (f0), even when they  are spoken by a bilingual individual. However, little is known in bilingual/L2 acquisition  research about simultaneous bilinguals. With the expectation that speakers who acquired  two languages early use f0 differently for each language, this study measured f0 in  English–Korean early bilinguals’ natural speech. The f0 level was higher for Korean than  English, regardless of gender, age, or generational status (early and late bilinguals did not  differ). The f0 span showed a language-gender interaction: males’ span was larger in  Korean, while females’ span was larger in English. This study demonstrates that languages  differ in f0 independent of speaker anatomy and suggests that children may acquire these  differences in early childhood.

The Fall and Rise of Vowel Length in Bantu

Although Proto-Bantu had a vowel length contrast on roots which survives in many daughter languages today, many other Bantu languages have modified the inherited system. In this paper I distinguish between four types of Bantu languages: (1) Those which maintain the free occurrence of the vowel length contrast inherited from the proto language; (2) Those which maintain the contrast, but have added restrictions which shorten long vowels in pre-(ante-)penultimate word position and/or on head nouns and verbs that are not final in their XP; (3) Those which have lost the contrast with or without creating new long vowels (e.g. from the loss of an intervocalic consonant flanked by identical vowels); (4) Those which have lost the contrast but have added phrase-level penultimate lengthening. I propose that the positional restrictions fed into the ultimate loss of the contrast in types (3) and (4), with a concomitant shift from root prominence (at the word level) to penultimate prominence (at the intonational and phrase level). In the course of covering the above typology and historical developments in Bantu, will show that there are some rather interesting Bantu vowel length systems, which I compare to tone, that may or may not be duplicated elsewhere in the world.

The Segmental and Tonal Structure of Verb Inflection in Babanki

In this paper we present a phonological and morphological analysis of the inflectional marking  of the verb in Babanki, a Grassfields Bantu language of the Ring subgroup in Cameroon. We show  that both the segmental markers and tonal patterns are sensitive to multiple past and future  tenses, perfective vs. progressive aspect, indicative vs. subjunctive mood, and negation. Of  particular interest is the discovery of a conjoint-disjoint (CJ/DJ) contrast better known from  Eastern and and Southern Bantu languages. After presenting the different tense aspect markers,  we develop rules assigning tone patterns by tense-aspect-mood-negation. Fourteen appendixes  provide full (color-coded) conjugations of eight verbs of different syllable structure and tone.

Prosodic asymmetries in nominal vs. verbal phrases in Bantu

Investigations into phonological differences between nouns and verbs focus almost exclusively on the lexical (word) level, showing that underlying contrasts are more numerous and stable (“faithful”) on nouns (Smith 1998, 1999). This raises the question of whether these (or other) alleged differences in word level phonology generalize to the nominal vs. verbal phrase. The Bantu family provides an ideal testing ground for such an investigation. Based on Bantu, I show that nouns are more likely to undergo modification at the phrase level than verbs, thereby obeying less “faithfulness” to the input than verbs. Nominal phrases also show more distinct outputs and complex idiosyncracies than their verbal counterparts. After establishing that there are distinct asymmetric properties in the phrasal phonology of nominal vs. verbal constituents in Bantu, I raise the question of what causes these asymmetries and whether they are general or pertain only to Bantu and other African languages.

Tonal coarticulation in Mandarin-English code-switching

Question: How is tonal coarticulation affected by code-switching?