School of Languages and Linguistics - Research Publications

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    The inconspicuous substratum Indigenous Australian languages and the phonetics of stop contrasts in English on Croker Island
    Mailhammer, R ; Sherwood, S ; Stoakes, H (John Benjamins Publishing, 2020-01-01)
    Descriptions of Australian Aboriginal English list the neutralisation of the Standard English contrast between so-called voiced and voiceless stops as one characteristic feature. This paper reports on the results of an acoustic analysis of data collected in a production task by monolingual speakers of Standard Australian English in Sydney, of Aboriginal English on Croker Island, Northern Territory, and bilingual speakers of Iwaidja/Aboriginal English and Kunwinjku/Aboriginal English on Croker Island. The results show that average values for Voice Onset Time, the main correlate of the “stop voicing contrast” in English, and Closure Duration collected from Aboriginal speakers of English do not significantly differ from that of speakers of Standard Australian English, irrespective of language background. This result proves that the stop contrast is not neutralised by these Aboriginal speakers of English. However, it can be shown that phonetic voicing manifesting itself in Voice Termination Time is a prevalent and characteristic feature of Aboriginal English on Croker Island. This feature aligns Aboriginal English on Croker Island with local Aboriginal languages and differentiates it from Standard Australian English.
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    The Pacific Expansion: Optimizing phonetic transcription of archival corpora
    Billington, R ; Stoakes, H ; Thieberger, N (ISCA-INT SPEECH COMMUNICATION ASSOC, 2021-01-01)
    For most of the world’s languages, detailed phonetic analyses across different aspects of the sound system do not exist, due in part to limitations in available speech data and tools for efficiently processing such data for low-resource languages. Archival language documentation collections offer opportunities to extend the scope and scale of phonetic research on low-resource languages, and developments in methods for automatic recognition and alignment of speech facilitate the preparation of phonetic corpora based on these collections. We present a case study applying speech modelling and forced alignment methods to narrative data for Nafsan, an Oceanic language of central Vanuatu. We examine the accuracy of the forced-aligned phonetic labelling based on limited speech data used in the modelling process, and compare acoustic and durational measures of 17,851 vowel tokens for 11 speakers with previous experimental phonetic data for Nafsan. Results point to the suitability of archival data for large-scale studies of phonetic variation in low-resource languages, and also suggest that this approach can feasibly be used as a starting point in expanding to phonetic comparisons across closely-related Oceanic languages.
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    Nasal coarticulation in Bininj Kunwok: An aerodynamic analysis
    Stoakes, HM ; Fletcher, JM ; Butcher, AR (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2020-12-01)
    Bininj Kunwok (BKw), a language spoken in Northern Australia, restricts the degree of anticipatory nasalization, as suggested by previous aerodynamic and acoustic analyses (Butcher 1999). The current study uses aerodynamic measurements of speech to investigate patterns of nasalization and nasal articulation in Bininj Kunwok to compare with Australian languages more generally. The role of nasal coarticulation in ensuring language compre-hensibility a key question in phonetics research today is explored. Nasal aerodynamics is measured in intervocalic, word-medial nasals in the speech of five female speakers of BKw and data are analyzed using Smoothing Spline Analysis of Variance (SSANOVA) and Functional Data Analysis averaging techniques. Results show that in a VNV sequence there is very little anticipatory vowel nasalization with no restriction on carryover nasalization for a following vowel. The maximum peak nasal flow is delayed until the oral release of a nasal for coronal articulations, indicating a delayed velum opening gesture. Patterns of anticipatory nasalization appears similar to nasal airflow in French non-nasalized vowels in oral vowel plus nasal environments (Delvaux et al. 2008). Findings show that Bininj Kunwok speakers use language specific strategies in order to limit anticipatory nasalization, enhancing place of articulation cues at a site of intonational prominence which also is also the location of the majority of place of articulation contrasts within the language. Patterns of airflow suggest enhancement and coarticulatory resistance in prosodically prominent VN and VNC sequences which we interpret as evidence of speakers maintaining a phonological contrast to enhance place of articulation cues.
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    Scaling processes of clause chains in Pitjantjatjara
    Defina, R ; Torres, C ; Stoakes, H (Interspeech, 2020)
    Clause chains are a syntactic strategy for combining multiple clauses into a single unit. They are reported in many languages, including Korean and Turkish. However, they have seen relatively little focused research. In particular, prosodic features are often mentioned in descriptions of clause chaining, however there have been vanishingly few investigations. Corpus-based studies of the prosody of clause chains in two unrelated languages of Papua New Guinea report that they are typically produced as a sequence of Intonation phrases united by pitch-scaling of the L% boundary tones in each clause with only the final, finite, clause descending to a full L%. The present study is the first experimental investigation of the prosody of clause chains in Pitjantjatjara. This paper focuses on one type of clause chain found in the Australian Indigenous language Pitjantjatjara. We examine a set of 120 clause chains read out by three native Pitjantjatjara speakers. Prosodic analysis reveals that these Pitjantjatjara clause chains are produced within a single Intonational Phrase. Speakers do not pause between the clauses in the chain, there is consistent linear downstep throughout the phrase and additionally phrase final lowering occurs at the end of the utterance. This differs from previous impressionistic studies of the prosody of clause chains.