I am a fourth-year Linguistics PhD student at Linguistics and English Language within the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.Dissertation
In my PhD dissertation, I use simulations and experimental methods to investigate the claim that sound change is driven by phonetic biases. Phonetic biases are physiological and psychoacoustic constraints on speech. One example is vowel undershoot: vowels sometimes fail to reach their phonetic targets due to limitations on the speed of the articulators. Phonetic biases are often paralleled by phonological patterns. For instance, many languages exhibit vowel reduction, a phonologised version of undershoot. It is often claimed that such parallels exist because phonological patterns arise through the repeated application of phonetic biases. My dissertation argues that this cannot be the case, as the influence of individual phonetic biases becomes greatly attenuated when other aspects of sound systems (such as category competition) are also taken into account. It also demonstrates that while biases do not cause sound change, they affect the probabilities of different types of sound change. Specifically, (i) the strength of phonetic biases and (ii) lexical factors related to phonetic biases can be used to predict cross-linguistic patterns in sound systems.
This investigation is unique both in its scope and methodology. Although phonetic biases are often implicated in sound change, their exact role is rarely investigated. The main reason for this lies in the elusiveness of the concept of biases and the difficulty of tracking their influence in complex systems. My dissertation overcomes these difficulties by (i) using computer simulations to generate predictions related to phonetic biases and (ii) matching these predictions to experimental data and cross-linguistic observations.Other projects
(1) The emergence of intrusive-r in English
(2) Echo-pairs in Hungarian
(3) L-deletion in Hungarian