Ryan Bennett presents at Brown, CLS, and UC Santa Cruz

May 4, 2015

Assistant Professor Ryan Bennett recently gave a talk at Brown University, titled “An ultrasound study of Irish palatalization.” Here is the abstract for his talk:

A core feature of the phonology of Irish is the distinction between palatalized /Cʲ/ (‘slender’) and velarized /Cˠ/ (‘broad’) consonants. Nearly every consonant in the language has both a palatalized and a velarized variant: this difference is phonemically contrastive (e.g. bád/bˠa:dˠ/ ‘boat (sg.)’ vs. báid /bˠa:dʲ/ ‘boat (pl.)’) and plays a major role in both morphological and phonological patterning. While the phonology of the /Cʲ/~/Cˠ/ distinction is fairly well-understood, the phonetics of this contrast—particularly the articulatory phonetics—remain somewhat obscure. 
In this talk I present results from the first ultrasound study of Irish consonant production. This study is motivated by several outstanding questions in the study of the Irish consonant system. To what extent do the phonemic labels “palatalized” and “velarized” correspond to phonetic truths about the position of the tongue body during the production of these consonants? What factors condition contextual variation in the production of these consonant types? And what can Irish tell us about the relationship between phonological contrast and articulatory patterning?
Ryan also recently presented at the 51st annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. As part of the special session on prosodic phonology, Ryan presented joint work with Boris Harizanov (Stanford University), and Robert Henderson (Wayne State University). The talk was titled “Prosodic smothering in Macedonian and Kaqchikel.” The abstract can be found here. Ryan also presented this joint work at UC Santa Cruz as part of the Phlunch (Phonetics and Phonology Lunch) group. <br><br>
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