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Linguistics and Cognitive Science

A Phonological Approach to Tone in Luganda

Katharine Mary Dutcher ('09), Mary Paster

The explanation for the distribution of falling tones in tonal languages is a controversial topic in linguistics. Certain tonal features of Luganda, a Bantu language spoken in Uganda, make the language a good place to test out competing theories on the subject. One phonetically-based theory is that a falling tone (a high-to-low pitch change) can only occur on certain types of syllables, determined by a universal hierarchy of syllable duration that is supposed to be universal across languages. In order to make Luganda conform to the hierarchy, a proponent of this theory has claimed that only syllables of the shape CVV (a consonant followed by two vowels or a long vowel) can bear a falling tone in this language. Yet the literature on Luganda and my own work with a native speaker suggest otherwise. To investigate the claim, I made several hundred recordings of a native Luganda speaker and analyzed them using phonetic software. Specifically, I tested words for falling tones in many different contexts – pre-pausal, pre-high-tone, and pre-low-tone. My research has demonstrated that falling tones can and do occur phonemically on non-CVV syllables in Luganda, and that therefore the phonetically-based approach to falling tone distribution should be re-evaluated.
Funding provided by: SURP (Richter)

Processing Evidence for Quantifier Raising: The Case of Antecedent Contained Ellipsis

Jorie Ann Koster-Moeller ('09), Jason Varvoutis ('06), Martin Hackl

Quantifier Raising (QR): QR is overt movement operation hypothesized to resolve the type-mismatch of quantifiers that appear in object position (QOb). (1) a. Mary likes every boy. b. Every boy Mary likes t Antecedent Contained Ellipsis (ACE): ACE refers to ellipsis that is properly contained within the expression that serves as the antecedent for ellipsis resolution. (2) Mary [VP likes the book Bill does <VP likes t>]. ACE is puzzling given that ellipsis resolution is subject to an identity constraint between antecedent and ellipsis site. A solution to this paradox is to QR the object DP hosting the ellipsis site to a position outside of the antecedent. (3) The book Bill does <VP likes t> Mary [VP likes t]. Real time processing of ACE: Our study compares definite and quantificational DPs in object position with and without ACE, using the Self-paced Reading methodology to distinguish two different triggers for QR - Qob and ACE. Results: Data from 48 subjects show a significant interaction (DetxSize: F(2,46) = 4.363; p = 0.018) on the second word after the ellipsis/gap site, supporting the view that the same process (QR) is responsible for ACE and Qob resolution.
Funding provided by: SURP

Processing Faces with Emotional Expressions

David Reid Clausen ('08), Deborah Burke

We use a new variant of the emotion Stroop task to test interference, a measure of attention, from faces with negative and positive expressions. The faces are identical to those used in an earlier study in which older but not younger adults showed an attentional bias towards viewing faces with positive expressions and away from viewing faces with negative expressions. Both old and young adults showed greater interference for faces with negative expressions. Both young and old adults showed higher recognition of faces with emotional expressions than neutral expressions and better recognition for negative than positive faces. Young and old adults showed equivalent recognition memory and interference suggesting that there is no difference in how young and old adults process emotional faces contrary to popular theories of age related cognitive change.
Funding provided by: SURP

Research at Pomona