Extra Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences Colloquium @ the Grad Center

Extra Colloquium: Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences
Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 2:45-4pm
365 Fifth Ave. Room 7102

Loan-word adaptation in Palestinian Arabic and Hebrew

Lior Laks/Bar-Ilan University

This talk will examine language contact in Palestinian Arabic (PA) and Hebrew.  I will examine cases in which the two languages borrow English words and apply different types of strategies of morphological adaptation.

Focus is on two main case studies:

(i) the formation of denominative verbs and the competition between verbal patterns (e.g. PA fannaš ‘finished’, tnarfaz ‘became nervous’ and Hebrew fikses ‘faxed’);

(ii)  pluralization of loan nouns in PA and the competition  between sound plural (e.g.  faks-faksa:t ‘fax’),  broken plural  (folder-fala:dir ‘folder’)  and cases where both plural forms exists (ballo:n-ballo:na:t/balali:n ‘balloon’).

In the talk I consider the different criteria that are taken into account in selection of one formation strategy over another and will shed light on the degree of integration of loanwords. Focus will be on non-concatenative word formation and the status of the consonantal root.

Interested students and faculty are welcome to join us in the 8th-floor cafeteria at 1pm to buy lunch and converse with Profs. Laks and Obler.

GC Ling. Colloquium: Andrew Rosenberg, 3/7, Prosody of Vocal Attractiveness

Andrew Rosenberg  (Google)
Prosody of Vocal Attractiveness

A speaker’s voice impacts listeners’ perceptions of its owner, leading to inference of gender, age, personality, and even height and weight. In this chapter we describe research into the qualities of speech that are deemed “attractive” by a listener. There are a number of ways that a person can be found attractive. This talk will review research into what makes speakers attractive in the political and business domains, and what vocal properties lead to perceptions of trust. I will then describe research into “likeability” and romantic attraction. While the lexical content of a speaker’s speech is important to their attractiveness, I’ll focus this survey on prosodic qualities, those acoustic properties that describe “how” the words are said rather than “what” the words are. I will also summarize work that has investigated attraction dynamics in two-party conversations.

Thursday, March 7th, 2019, 4:15pm – 6pm, room 6417
Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave
All are welcome!
Refreshments to follow in room 7400

NYU Colloquium Announcement: Adeen Flinker (Tuesday February 12, 2019, 1:45pm, 665 Broadway, 9th floor)

NYU Communicative Sciences and Disorders
Colloquium Announcement
February 12, 2019
665 Broadway, 9th floor Conference Room

Adeen Flinker [med.nyu.edu], PhD

NYU Langone, Department of Neurology
Intracranial electrophysiology of speech perception and production

For many decades, the neurobiological basis of language has been dominated by a conceptually dichotomous model in which speech perception is supported by Wernicke’s area in the temporal lobe and speech production is supported by Broca’s area in the frontal lobe. This model has been challenged by lesion and neuroimaging studies suggesting a more complex network of cortical structures supporting language. Many of the questions remaining in the field require a fine-grained temporal resolution together with spatial specificity in order to assay the dynamics of speech. Here I will introduce a series of studies employing direct electrocorticographic (ECoG) recordings in humans, illuminating the dynamics and cascade of neural events from perception to production of speech.


Mark your calendars for our next talks:

February 19, 1:45pm: Scott Schroeder [scottrschroeder.org], Hofstra University
Do bilingual children develop Theory of Mind faster?

March 12, 1:45pm: Suzanne van der Feest [liberalarts.utexas.edu], CUNY Grad Center
Effects of Speaking Style and Context On Young Listener’s Word Recognition

April 2, 1:45pm: Eric Jackson [wp.nyu.edu], NYU
Stuttering and the Social Brain

April 16, 1:45pm: Susan Duncan [sites01.lsu.edu], Louisiana State University
Resting state fMRI in aphasia: Relationship to task and recovery
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

GC Linguistics Colloquium: Charles Yang, 2/7/19 – The Linguistic Basis of Natural Number

GC CUNY Linguistics Colloquium

Charles Yang  University of Pennsylvania

The Linguistic Basis of Natural Number

Abstract: Only humans learn language and only humans develop the concept of natural number: How are these two abilities related? I propose that the Successor Function, which provides the infinity of natural numbers, becomes available to children through learning the productive rules of numeral formation in their native language. We tested the development of counting and the knowledge of the Successor Function by Cantonese-learning children. The simplicity of the Cantonese numeral system provides a full year of developmental advantage over English-learning children, which can be precisely characterized by a well-established principle of language learning and generalization. I will also address the inevitable Whorpfian implications of our results on the relationship between language and thought.

[This talk reports joint work with Margaret Lei and Thomas Lee at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.]

Thursday, February 7th, 2019, 4:15pm – 6pm Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave, room 6417

All are welcome!

Refreshments to follow in room 7400


In her article, “Why we like some words more than others,” Carmen Álvarez-Mayo discusses the idea of words that are “phonoaesthetically pleasing,” which is something I have always found intriguing. Naturally, everyone has a preference in the words they like to hear and say, which influences which words are actually used and how we attach meaning to them. It really is amazing how our feelings towards the aesthetics of words themselves can shape our language!

Álvarez-Mayo focuses on the criteria that make words alluring, the first of which is easy, flow-y phonemes. Naturally, it is important to consider the sounds and pronunciation of a word. In lists that contain “the most beautiful words in the English language,” the words tend to all have 2-3 syllables, short vowels, easy to produce consonants like /l/ /s/ and /m/. These phonemes in particular elicit natural, peaceful tones that many find solace in. Some of these words include velvet, gossamer, luminous, etc.

She also briefly mentioned the importance denotation and connotation has on our perception of words. Unsurprisingly, words that have negative definitions or connotations are usually disliked and make people cringe. For example, some words that I have often heard people hate are moist, ointment and phlegm, all of which don’t necessarily relate to positive, light thoughts.

Carmen Álvarez-Mayo also touched on an interesting point, which is when people form preferences to words in their non-native language. This kind of research is interesting because it allows for some suspension of the influence of denotation and connotation, and it allows for the speaker to focus solely on the aesthetic phonemes. She mentioned how words that may use sounds that are typically rarely used in the speaker’s mother tongue are often admired, especially when they learn to and manage to successfully pronounce it. Some examples she included are esperanza, izquierda, and (my personal favorite) desafortunadamente. It’s so interesting because we have most, if not all of these phonemes separately in English, but the unique combination of them creates an enchanting and alluring word.

I really enjoyed reading this article (and going on several tangents from this article), as I have often heard people express their preferences and very strong dislike for words (particularly moist) that I could not relate to! There are so many words I have no problem with that others cringe at, and I have always considered it an extremely subjective and relative concept. Supposedly, many don’t like the sound of ‘pulp’ and ‘slurp’, which I don’t mind at all, but I found comfort in learning that many don’t like the word ‘rural’, which I have never been fond of! (I think it’s the awkward pronunciation of the word that makes me dislike saying it out loud.) Regardless, it’s the small attention to detail that causes such strong emotions in word preferences and word aesthetics, and it truly is amazing to think about!