Patrice Speeter Beddor, Linguistics Colloquium: Are innovative listeners also innovative speakers? The time course of individuals' perception and production of coarticulatory information

Colloquium | October 16 | 3:10-5 p.m. | 370 Dwinelle Hall

 Patrice Speeter Beddor, University of Michigan

 Department of Linguistics

Understanding the relation between speech production and perception is foundational to phonetic theory, and is similarly central to theories of the phonetics of sound change. For sound changes that are arguably perceptually motivated, it is particularly important to establish that an individual listener's selective attention—for example, their attention to the predictable information afforded by coarticulation—is reflected in that individual's own productions. In other words, it is important to establish that the listener's percept is publicly manifested.

Together with several collaborators, I have been conducting a series of studies that test the assumption that innovative listeners are correspondingly innovative in their productions. In my talk, I will report the results of a pair of experiments designed to test the hypothesis that individuals who attend to coarticulatory information especially closely in perception also produce more consistent and extensive coarticulation. The perception experiment uses an eye-tracking paradigm to measure the time course of participants' attention to coarticulated vowel nasality; the production experiment uses nasal airflow to measure the time course of those same participants' coarticulatory vowel nasalization. Consistent with the hypothesis, the results show that a speaker's coarticulatory patterns predict, to some degree, that individual's perception: participants who are, as listeners, more efficient users of nasality as that information unfolds over time also produce earlier onset of coarticulatory nasalization. Although these data from American English presumably do not tap into a change in progress, I will argue that, by establishing that a listener's innovative perceptual weights are made public through their productions, they are relevant to the less stable patterns of variation that may give rise to sound change.