PhD Students Emma Portugal, Kendall Lowe, and Csilla Tatar made their presence felt at the 186th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), showcasing their latest findings in the realm of sound and linguistics in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, from May 13th to 17th. 

Poster Presentations

Kendall Lowe

You good?: Examining the role of intonation and eyebrow movements in sentence type distinction 

By analyzing the pitch accents, edge tones, and eyebrow movements of African American English (AAE) speakers, this study examines the coordination of prosody and co-speech gestures. Twelve self-identified AAE speakers engaged in scripted dialogues with an AAE-speaking confederate via Zoom. Half of the dialogues contained the polysemous AAE idiomatic phrase ""you good"" which has declarative and interrogative forms hypothesized to be distinguished by various eyebrow and intonation patterns. The other dialogues included non-idiomatic phrases semantically related to their ""you good"" equivalents. These dialogues were designed to explore whether the coordination patterns for the idioms occur with non-idiomatic utterances of the same sentence type. Acoustic data is prosodically annotated using the MAE-ToBI transcription system and visual eyebrow data is tracked using OpenFace 2.0, a facial landmark detection toolkit. The derived eyebrow movement trajectories are time-aligned with the pitch trajectories for the semi-automatic labeling of multimodal signals. The temporal relationship between eyebrow movement landmarks, pitch accents, and edge tones is examined to investigate how different meanings and sentence types are created through their coordination. Preliminary examination indicates intonationally similar contours for the idiomatic and non-idiomatic interrogative phrases, but shared and consistent intonational contours are not evident in the declarative data.

Emma Portugal

Examining the maintenance of dialect features in colloquial urban Armenian speech via variationist analysis of vowels in Gavar, Armenia

This study examines the maintenance of previously described local dialect vowels in the regional city of Gavaṛ, Armenia. The dialect vowel system contains additional phonemic and allophonic distinctions not found in supralocal Armenian varieties. As such, adherence to this system was conceptualized through the presence or absence of various vowel mergers. F1 and F2 were measured from picture and word list data collected from sociolinguistic interviews with 31 participants. Mergers were assessed for each participant via Pillai scores and Euclidean distances between clusters of words where different vowels were predicted to appear based on previous descriptions of the dialect. Countering previous claims about dialect leveling in regional cities, some participants were found to maintain some aspects of the dialect vowel system. Fixed effects linear models assessed the effect of demographic predictors (self-reported gender, birth year, education level) on maintenance of dialect vowels. There was an effect of gender, such that men were found to maintain some dialect vowels to a greater degree than women. Participants’ commentary suggested that the most salient aspects of the dialect vowel system are the same ones in relation to which this demographic variation was uncovered, indicating a relationship between salience and maintenance of dialect vowels.

Csilla Tatar

Examining the time-varying measures of F0 in sarcasm: Wiggliness, spaciousness, and contour clustering

The present project examines the phonetic correlates, specifically those related to F0, of sarcastic speech. In a production study, American English speakers (N=12) produced identically worded utterance pairs presented in contexts conducive to sarcasm and sincerity. Measures of F0 variability are contrasted; these are wiggliness and spaciousness [Wehrle, Cangemi, Krüger, & Grice (2018) Proceedings of AISV], F0 range and F0 mean SD. Raw values were entered into by-speaker logistic regression models. Wiggliness and spaciousness together were found to be comparable to F0 mean SD and F0 range in distinguishing sarcasm and sincerity for eight of the speakers. Intonational characteristics were further examined via by-speaker F0 contour clustering [Kaland, 2021]. These by-speaker analyses showed that many speakers produce contours characteristic of sarcasm or sincerity, but that these contours differ by speaker. Further exploration of a subset of nine speakers’ data showed that wiggliness and spaciousness alone can capture some of the differences between sincere and sarcastic contour clusters for some speakers. Speaker strategies vary in terms of F0, and sarcastic speech is characterized by reduced wiggliness and spaciousness for some of the speakers.

Both Csilla and Kendall were awarded student transportation subsidies from ASA.