Gudrun Gylfadottir will be defending her dissertation proposal on Friday, May 13th at 1PM. The defense will be in the large conference room at IRCS (4th floor, 3401 Walnut Street).
The proposal document can be found at:
The abstract is below.
*Title:* Individual-level Knowledge of an Incoming Contrast: Seseo reversal in Seville
*Advisor: *Meredith Tamminga
*Proposal Committee: *David Embick, Don Ringe, Rolf Noyer
My proposed dissertation investigates the nature of the reported reversal of a consonant merger in a city in southern Spain by examining separate aspects of the behavior and knowledge of individuals in the speech community.
The contrast in question, /s/ and /θ/, will be explored through the study of a group of 24 individual speakers in Seville, some of whom are anticipated (due to prior reports) to sometimes produce the contrast, and sometimes produce only [s] (seseo). How many phonemes do these speakers have, and how can we characterize what they know about /θ/? Three types of information will be gathered for each individual. First, naturalistic and formal speech will be elicited to gauge whether and how often each speaker employs the contrast. Subsequently, a battery of psycholinguistic experiments will determine whether each speaker is able to acoustically discriminate the sounds and use them in speech processing. Finally, each subject will be asked about their awareness of the contrast. This combination of socio- and psycholinguistic methods will create a picture of each individual that encompasses production and different levels of perceptual knowledge.
The results of the study will have bearing on our understanding of phonemes and contrasts, especially with regards to the potential dissociability of different pieces of phonological knowledge.