Sóskuthy at Langwidge Sandwidge

Posted on March 6, 2013 by


Tuesday 12th will see an extra Langwidge Sandwidge talk by former Hogg Prize winner Márton Sóskuthy. Márton, who has just submitted his PhD, will be talking about “Phonetic biases and systemic effects in the actuation of sound change”.

Note that this talk, though at the usual time (1pm), is on an odd week and will be in room A115 rather than the usual.

Here’s the abstract:

In this talk, I investigate the role of phonetic biases and systemic effects in the actuation of sound change through computer simulations and experimental methods. It has been argued that approaches that view phonetic biases as the source of sound change make problematic predictions with respect to the actuation problem. Specifically, they predict that sound change should occur much more frequently than it does. I argue that this is not because of the fundamental assumptions of such approaches, but because of their narrow focus on isolated sound categories. If we shift our attention from individual categories to sound systems, this problem disappears: the effects of phonetic biases are countered by other pressures within the system, and the predicted systems are stable. I will show how the system-based approach can capture both stasis and change. This argument will be developed through a series of computer simulations based on plausible assumptions about speech production and perception. I will also demonstrate that the model can make testable predictions about sound systems, and verify these predictions in a small cross-linguistic production experiment.

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