October 29, 2015

Guest speaker: Helen Buckler (University of Toronto at Mississauga)

Our department is pleased to welcome Helen Buckler, a postdoctoral scholar in the Infant and Child Studies Centre at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. She earned a Ph.D. in 2014 from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and is interested in the cross-linguistic acquisition of morphophonological patterning in the midst of variation.

Her talk is entitled "Building phonological representations from connected speech"; it draws on collaborative research conducted with Paula Fikkert (Radboud University Nijmegen), Huiwen Goy (University of Toronto), Elizabeth K. Johnson (University of Toronto), and Julie Kow (University of Toronto). The talk will be in SS 1078 on Friday, November 6, beginning at 3:30 PM sharp.

When acquiring a lexicon, one of the biggest challenges infants face is to establish phonological representations and map word forms to meanings. This is no mean feat, especially when we consider the degree of variation that they are faced with in their linguistic environment. Children are not learning from a single speaker uttering isolated words, but a range of speakers using grammatically complex multi-word utterances. They must contend with acoustic differences between the speakers (e.g. gender or accent), as well phonological variation that arises in connected speech. In this talk I will focus on the latter type of variation, and discuss a selection of cross-linguistic studies that examine how toddlers build phonological representations in contexts where connected speech processes neutralize a phonological contrast.

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