Benjamin Parrell (University of Delaware) will be the "Thursday Thoughts" speaker on January 21st.


Title: The wide world of prosody: Prosodic structure in sound change and prosodic breakdown in disordered speech.



I will present two sets of studies that, while covering quite different subjects, both emphasize the importance of the prosodic system in human language and speech. In the first part of the talk, I will present of dynamical-systems based model of synchronic reduction and show how differences in prosodic structure can lead to different patterns of reduction across languages. This model is also able to show how synchronic reduction patterns can lead to diachronic sound change when language learners underweight the role of the prosodic system in shaping the distribution of productions they hear. In the second part of the talk, I will present a series of studies on ataxic dysarthria, a motor speech disorder characterized principally by prosodic disruptions. I will show that these impairments arise because patients with this disorder are impaired in feedforward control and subsequent over-rely on feedback control when speaking.