Erich Round and Michael Proctor receive DECRA Fellowships

November 10, 2014
Recent Yale linguistics PhD graduates Erich Round and Michael Proctor, who both graduated in 2009, have been awarded three-year research fellowships from the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) program in Australia. This program provides support for early-career researchers who have shown promise in their field.
Erich, whose dissertation was titled “Kayardild phonology, morphology, and morphosyntax,” is now a lecturer at the University of Queensland. Here is a description of his DECRA project:
Carbon dating in archaeology employs the dissipation of isotopes, to date ancient finds. This project harnesses the insights of dissipating information, to discover language histories. It does so by bringing together two, high-definition technologies: powerful, computational statistical engines pioneered in genetics, and an innovative kind of very fine-grained, statistically optimised observations of language structure. Calibrated against traditional and cutting edge linguistic analyses, it offers new insight into how languages reveal history, and how cultural groups speaking the Uralic languages of Eurasia and Australian Aboriginal languages diverged, spread, and interacted, from a distant past to the recent present.
Michael’s dissertation was titled “Gestural Characterization of a Phonological Class: the Liquids.” He is currently a lecturer at Macquarie University. Here is a summary of his DECRA project:
Speech sounds that fall into the ‘l’ and ‘r’ family of consonants (‘liquids’) are amongst the most difficult to master, both for children learning their first language and for learners of a second. This is because liquids are highly complex and require finely tuned, and language specific, coordination of articulatory gestures. The details of this complexity remain poorly understood, posing significant challenges for remediation of speech errors and for effective pedagogy in language learning. This project aims to use state-of-the-art articulatory methods to examine liquids in four typologically distinct languages of increasing importance in modern Australian society to lay essential foundations for future work on remediation and instruction.
Congratulations to Erich and Michael! 
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