General research themes

Here are general research themes that I have been pursing in the last 10 years or so, both as a phonologist and a phonetician.

 

Japanese geminate devoicing

One empirical phenomenon that I have been working on since 2003 (almost 15 years now!) is geminate devoicing in Japanese loanwords (Nishimura 2003). An (oversimplified) simplified description of this phenomenon would be "voiced geminates devoice when they co-occur with another voiced obstruent---no devoicing occurs to singletons or geminates in other contexts" (e.g. [doggu] → [dokku]). To address the question of why only geminates, not singletons, devoice, in Kawahara (2016), I proposed a perception-based analysis, in which a voicing contrast is more perceptible in singletons than in geminates. To support this analysis, I conducted an acoustic and perception study. I further argued in Kawahara (2008) that the cause of devoicing---the OCP(voice) or Lyman's Law---is phonetically unnatural. Therefore, the geminate devoicing is both phonetically natural and unnatural. This claim formed a basis of my doctoral dissertation at UMass, Amherst.

Since the publication of Kawahara (2006), this pattern of geminate devoicing has been analyzed in various theoretical frameworks and has contributed to various theoretical debates. After a while, I felt responsible for making "this dataset" available to the field of phonology, because the data were largely based on my own intuition (and that of Nishimura 2003). Thus, in Kawahara (2011a,b, 2012, 2013), I tested the intuitions of naive native speakers about devoicing in several environments using phonological judgment experiments. These studies largely confirmed my intuitions that I reported in 2006; however, they also revealed further interesting aspects of Japanese devoicing. For example, devoicing of geminates is not monolithic—--several phonological and lexical factors influence the naturalness of devoicing. One factor that influenced the naturalness of devoicing was lexical usage frequency (Kawahara 2011b), and I modeled this effect with Andries Coetzee (Coetzee & Kawahara, 2013).

With Shin-ichiro Sano, I went on to conduct corpus studies to investigate what people do in actual production, using the Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese. The studies have revealed that several linguistic and sociolinguistic factors affect the devoicing likelihood of geminates (Kawahara and Sano 2013; Sano and Kawahara 2013), further corroborating the complicated nature of this devoicing pattern. For a summary of the research mentioned so far, see this paper.

In 2015, I finally started facing one complication which I have been setting aside since I started working on this phenomenon. That is, [p] can cause devoicing devoicing just like a voiced obstruent (e.g. [kyuupitto] “cupid”). Kawahara and San (2016) supported this observation with a corpus study and experimentation this paper. Later, this observation has led me to think that what we have been calling “Lyman’s Law” actually operates over Japanese orthography; i.e. it is not entirely phonological. This possibility is more fully explored in the Glossa paper below. Also, Kawahara (2006) has been a favorite paper of mine, but I am actually considering an alternative now: the difference between singletons and geminates in terms of their devoicability may arise from how much information a voicing contrast has in each context, where information is formally defined in terms of Shannon’s entropy. I gave an invited talk at FAJL in 2016 to explore this idea, and the write-up appeared in the proceedings.

[NB: I often get asked for a copy of Nishimura (2006)—-the original paper that found this very phenomenon. I take the liberty of making it available here as a service to the phonological community.]

Representative Publications in this area

You can download a lot of the papers in one file from here.

Kawahara, Shigeto (revision submitted) Phonology and orthography: The orthographic basis of rendaku and Lyman’s Law. Glossa.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2016) Japanese geminate devoicing once again: Insights from Information Theory. Proceedings of Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics 8: 43-62.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Shin-ichiro Sano (2016) /p/-driven geminate devoicing in Japanese: Corpus and experimental evidence. Journal of Japanese Linguistics 32: 57-77.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2015) Geminate devoicing in Japanese loanwords: Theoretical and experimental investigations. Language and Linguistic Compass 9(4): 168–182.

Fukazawa Haruka, Shigeto Kawahara, Mafuyu Kitahara and Shin-ichiro Sano (2015) Two is too much: Geminate devoicing in Japanese. In Phonological Society of Japan (ed.) Phonological Studies 18. Tokyo: Kaitakusha. pp.3-10.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Shin-ichiroo Sano (2013) A corpus-based study of geminate devoicing in Japanese: Linguistic factors. Language Sciences 40: 300-307.

Sano, Shin-ichiroo and Shigeto Kawahara (2013) A corpus-based study of geminate devoicing in Japanese: The role of the OCP and external factors. Journal of Linguistic Society of Japan (Gengo Kenkyuu) 144: 103-118

Shigeto Kawahara (2013) Testing Japanese loanword devoicing: Addressing task effects. Linguistics 51(6): 1271–1299.

Coetzee, Andries and Shigeto Kawahara (2013) Frequency biases in phonological variation. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 31(1): 47-89.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2012) Lyman's Law is active in loanwords and nonce words: Evidence from naturalness judgment studies Lingua 122(11): 1193-1206.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2011a) Japanese loanword devoicing revisited: A rating study. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 29(3): 705-723.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2011b) Aspects of Japanese loanword devoicing. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 20(2): 169–194.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2008) Phonetic naturalness and unnaturalness in Japanese loanword phonology. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 17(4): 317-330.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2006) A faithfulness ranking projected from a perceptibility scale: The case of [+voice] in Japanese. Language 82(3): 536-574.

Using EMA to address linguistic questions

I never had a chance to study articulation in close detail until I started working with Donna Erickson and Atsuo Suemitsu, who introduced me to the exciting world of EMA (ElectroMagnetic Articulography). I am helping Donna’s approach to explore metrical structure of different languages in terms of jaw movement. And I am now having a great pleasure working with Jason Shaw to explore the nature of Japanese phonetics using EMA. Two themes drive our research: (i) to what extent contextual predictability affects the robustness of speech articulation in Japanese? (ii) what is the articulatory nature of devoiced vowels in Japanese, and how the question in (i) interacts with this question?

Representative Publications in this area

Shaw, Jason and Shigeto Kawahara (revision submitted) A computational toolkit for assessing phonological specification in phonetic data: Discrete Cosine Transform, Micro-Prosodic Sampling, Bayesian Classification. Phonology.

Shaw, Jason and Shigeto Kawahara (revision submitted) The lingual gesture of devoiced /u/ in Tokyo Japanese. Journal of Phonetics.

Kawahara, Shigeto, Donna Erickson, and Atsuo Suemitsu (2017) The phonetics of jaw displacement in Japanese vowels. Acoustical Science and Technology 38(2): 99-107.

Erickson, Donna, Kiyoshi Honda and Shigeto Kawahara (2017) Interaction of jaw displacement and F0 peak in syllables produced with contrastive emphasis. Acoustical Science and Technology 38(3): 137-146.

Erickson, Donna, Chunyue Zhu, Shigeto Kawahara, and Atsuo Suemitsu (2016) Articulation, acoustics and perception of Mandarin Chinese emotional speech. Open Linguistics 2: 620-635.

Erickson, Donna and Shigeto Kawahara (2016) Articulatory correlates of metrical structure: Studying jaw displacement patterns. Linguistic Vanguard 2: 103-118.

Kawahara, Shigeto, Donna Erickson, and Atsuo Suemitsu (2015) Edge prominence and declination in Japanese jaw displacement patterns: A view from the C/D model. A special issue on the C/D model, Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan 19(2): 33-43.

Kawahara, Shigeto, Hinako Masuda, Donna Erickson, Jeff Moore, Atsuo Suemitsu and Yoshiho Shibuya (2014) Quantifying the effects of vowel quality and preceding consonants on jaw displacement: Japanese data. Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan 18(2): 54-62.

 

The influence of predictability on sound patterns

This is a relatively new project. Through the interaction with Jason Shaw and Beth Hume, I became interested in how predictability affects sound patterns of human language. The general observation is that speakers implement contrasts that are not predictable more robustly. On the other hand, speakers tend to reduce those elements that are predictable. In Shannon’s Information Theory, this predictability can be quantified as informational entropy. Now I am interested in exploring (i) how this approach to phonetics and phonology can explain the sound patterns of non-Indo-European languages, as well as (ii) its interaction with other principles of grammar. I am editing a special issue of Linguistics Vanguard on this topic.

Representative Publications in this area

Shaw, Jason and Kawahara, Shigeto (to appear) Effects of Surprisal and Entropy on vowel duration in Japanese. Language and Speech.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2017) Japanese geminate devoicing once again: Insights from Information Theory. Proceedings of Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics 8: 43-62.

Shigeto Kawahara and Seunghun Lee (to appear) Truncation in Message-Oriented Phonology: A case study using Korean vocative truncation. Linguistic Vanguard.

 

Psycholinguistic research: phonological judgments

I ran a series of phonological judgments experiments on geminate devoicing in Japanese loanwords (see above), and have become interested in testing other aspects of (Japanese) phonology this way. The phenomena that I have studied using phonological judgment experiments include rendaku, emphatic gemination, some accent-related phenomena, and sound symbolism. These experiments very often reveal aspects of our phonological knowledge which are otherwise difficult to access.

In pursing this line of research, I have now become interested in investigating how different modes of experimentation affect our phonological judgments. By “modes of experimentation” I mean, for example, asking native speakers whether a particular form is possible or asking speakers to rate the naturalness of a given form. The experimental variables that I have tested include: rating vs. yes/no, real words vs. nonce words and orthography test vs. auditory test. This is one area of study that I want to elaborate on in future studies.

In 2016, I started analyses of sound symbolic patterns of Pokemon names, both using the corpus of existing Pokemon names and experiments using new, made-up Pokemon pictures. Not only am I having fun with this research, I am interested in using these materials for undergraduate education to make linguistics (particularly, phonetics) fun to study.

Representative Publications in this area

On sound symbolism

川原繁人・桃生朋子 (2017) 音象徴の言語学教育での有効利用に向けて: 『ウルトラマン』の怪獣名と音象徴. 音声研究

川原繁人 (2017) ドラゴンクエストの呪文における音象徴: 音声学の広がりを目指して. 音声研究 21(2): xxx-xxx.

Shigeto Kawahara, Atsushi Noto, and Gakuji Kumagai (submitted) Sound (symbolic) patterns in Pokemon names: Focusing on voiced obstruents and mora counts.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Gakuji Kumagai (submitted) Expressing Evolution in Pokemon Names: Experimental Explorations.

Shinohara, Kazuko, Naoto Yamauchi, Shigeto Kawahara, and Hideyuki Tanaka (2016) Takete and maluma in action: A cross-modal relationship between gestures and sounds. PLOS ONE. Go to the publication page.

Shinohara, Kazuko and Shigeto Kawahara (2016) A cross-linguistic study of sound symbolism: The images of size. The proceedings of BLS 36: 396-410. Berkeley Linguistic Society: Berkeley.

Kawahara, Shigeto, Kazuko Shinohara and Joseph Grady (2015) Iconic inferences about personality: From sounds and shapes. In Masako K. Hiraga, William J. Herlofsky, Kazuko Shinohara and Kimi Akita (eds.) Iconicity: East meets west. John Benjamins: Amsterdam. pp. 57-69.

Shigeto Kawahara and Kazuko Shinohara (2012) A tripartite trans-modal relationship among sounds, shapes and emotions: A case of abrupt modulation. In. N. Miyake, D. Peebles and R. P. Cooper (eds.) The Proceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin: Cognitive Science Society. pp. 569-574. (There were some mistakes in the published version, which you can download from here.)

On rendaku

Kawahara, Shigeto (revision submitted) Phonology and orthography: The orthographic basis of rendaku and Lyman’s Law. Glossa.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2016) Experimental studies of rendaku. In Timothy Vance and Mark Irwin (eds.) Sequential voicing in Japanese compounds: Papers from the NINJAL Rendaku Project. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 35-46.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Shin-ichiro Sano (2016) Rendaku and identity avoidance: Consonantal identity and moraic identity. In Timothy Vance and Mark Irwin (eds.) Sequential voicing in Japanese compounds: Papers from the NINJAL Rendaku Project. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp.47-55.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2015) Comparing a forced-choice wug test and a naturalness rating test: An exploration using rendaku. Language Sciences 48: 42-47.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2015) Can we use rendaku for phonological argumentation? Linguistic Vanguard 1: 3-14. Online publication.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Shin-ichiro Sano (2014) Identity Avoidance and Lyman's Law. Lingua 150: 71-77.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Shin-ichiro Sano (2014) Identity Avoidance and rendaku. Proceedings of Phonology 2013. Online publication.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Shin-ichiro Sano (2014) Testing Rosen's Rule and Strong Lyman's Law. NINJAL Research Papers 7: 111-120.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2012) Lyman's Law is active in loanwords and nonce words: Evidence from naturalness judgment studies. Lingua 122(11): 1193-1206.

On gemination

Kawahara, Shigeto (2013) Emphatic gemination in Japanese mimetic words: A wug-test with auditory stimuli. Language Sciences 40: 24-35.

General discussion

Shigeto Kawahara (ms) Opacity in Japanese.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2016) Psycholinguistic methodology in phonological research (pre-print version). Oxford Bibliography Online. For discussion on Japanese verbal paradigms, which I removed as per reviewer’s request, click here.The published version is available from here.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Hideki Zamma (2016) Generative treatments of rendaku. In Timothy Vance and Mark Irwin (eds.) Sequential voicing in Japanese compounds: Papers from the NINJAL Rendaku Project. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp.13-34.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2011) Experimental approaches in theoretical phonology. In M. van Oostendorp, C. Ewen, E. Hume, and K.Rice (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Phonology. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 2283-2303.

Phonetics of duration

My interests in the phonology of geminates naturally led me to examine the phonetic properties of duration-based contrasts. I have studied various aspects of Japanese geminates and long vowels. Not only do I study the durational properties of lexical contrasts, I am also interested in lengthening phenomena that occur to express emphasis. I have been working on these phonetic projects primarily with Aaron Braver. Recently, I enjoy using the Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese to explore durational patterns in spontaneous speech.

Representative Publications in this area

Shaw, Jason and Kawahara, Shigeto (to appear) Effects of Surprisal and Entropy on vowel duration in Japanese. Language and Speech.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2018) Durational vowel-coda interaction in spontaneous Japanese utterances. Acoustical Science and Technology 39.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2017) Durational compensation within a CV mora in spontaneous Japanese: Evidence from the Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 142: EL143. A link to the published article

Kawahara, Shigeto and Melanie Pangilinan (2017) Spectral continuity, amplitude changes, and perception of length contrasts. In H. Kubozono (ed.) Aspects of Geminate Consonants. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 13-33.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2016) Japanese has syllables: A reply to Labrune (2012). Phonology 33(1): 169–194.
The published version. The link to the CUP site

Kawahara, Shigeto and Melanie Pangilinan (2017) Spectral continuity, amplitude changes, and perception of length contrasts. In H. Kubozono (ed.) Aspects of Geminate Consonants. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 13-33.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Aaron Braver (2014) Durational properties of emphatically-lengthened consonants in Japanese. Journal of International Phonetic Association 44(3): 237-260.

Braver, Aaron and Shigeto Kawahara (2014) Incomplete vowel lengthening: A first study. Proceedings of the 31st meeting of West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. pp.86-95. Sommerville: Cascadilla Press.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2015) The phonetics of sokuon, obstruent geminates. In Haruo Kubozono (ed.) The Handbook of Japanese Language and Linguistics: Phonetics and Phonology. Mouton. pp. 43-73.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Aaron Braver (2013) The phonetics of emphatic vowel lengthening in Japanese. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics 3(2): 141-148. Open Access version.

Shigeto Kawahara (2012) Amplitude changes facilitate categorization and discrimination of length contrasts. IEICE Technical Report. THE INSTITUTE OF ELECTRONICS, INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION ENGINEERS 112: 67-72.

Kingston, John, Shigeto Kawahara, Della Chambless, Daniel Mash and Eve Brenner-Alsop (2009) Contextual effects on the perception of duration. Journal of Phonetics. 37(3): 297-320.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2006) A faithfulness ranking projected from a perceptibility scale: The case of [+voice] in Japanese. Language 82(3): 536-574.

 

Accent, intonation and prosodic structure

I have also worked on the phonetics and phonology of accent and intonation, mainly in Japanese but also in French and Mandarin. Recently, I regained my interests in phrasal phonetics and phonology, through the investigation of articulatory correlates of phrasing in English and Japanese with Donna Erickson.

Representative Publications in this area

Kawahara, Shigeto (2016) The prosodic features of “tsun” and “moe” voices. Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan 20(2): 102-110.

Erickson, Donna and Shigeto Kawahara (2016) Articulatory correlates of metrical structure: Studying jaw displacement patterns. Linguistic Vanguard 2: 103-118

Kawahara, Shigeto (2015) The phonology of Japanese accent. In Haruo Kubozono (ed.) The Handbook of Japanese Language and Linguistics: Phonetics and Phonology. Mouton. pp.445-492.

Kawahara, Shigeto, Donna Erickson, Jeff Moore, Atsuo Suemitsu and Yoshiho Shibuya (2014) Jaw displacement and metrical structure in Japanese: The effect of pitch accent, foot structure, phrasal stress. Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan 18(2): 77-87.

Hara, Yurie, Kawahara, Shigeto and Yuli Feng (2014) The prosody of enhanced bias in Mandarin and Japanese negative questions. Lingua 150: 92-116.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Sophia Kao (2012) The productivity of a root-initial accenting suffix, [-zu]: Judgment studies. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 30(3): 837-857.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Matt Wolf (2010) On the existence of root-initial-accenting suffixes: An elicitation study of Japanese [-zu]. Linguistics 48(4): 837-864. Eratta

Deprez, Viviane, Kristen Syrett and Shigeto Kawahara (2013) The interaction of syntax, prosody, and discourse in licensing French wh-in-situ questions. Lingua 124: 4-19.

Kawahara, Shigeto (2012) The intonation of nominal parentheticals in Japanese. In T. Borowsky, S. Kawahara, T. Shinya and M. Sugahara (eds.) Prosody Matters. Equinox: London. pp. 304-340.

Hara, Yurie and Shigeto Kawahara (2012) The prosody of public evidence in Japanese: A rating study. Proceedings of the 29th meeting of West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. pp.353-361. Sommerville: Cascadilla Press.

Kawahara, Shigeto and Takahito Shinya (2008) The intonation of gapping and coordination in Japanese: Evidence for Intonational Phrase and Utterance. Phonetica 65(1-2): 62-105.

 

Other Topics

Other topics that I work(ed) on (largely through collaboration) include: the impacts of phonetic perceptibility on phonological patterns, analyses of Japanese rap rhymes and puns (see this page), phonetic studies of African languages (with Sang-im Kim-Lee and Seunghun Lee), acoustics of child speech (with Kristen Syrett), speech perception and its interaction with phonological knowledge (with John Kingston), sound symbolism and its phonetic bases (with Kazuko Shinohara), topics in L2 acquisition (with Hinako Masuda, Jeff Moore, and Tomoko Monou), phonology of non-standard dialects of Japanese (with Yurie Hara), formal phonological theory, the phonetics of maid voice, the phonetics of yoga sounds, and a bit of semantics (with Yurie Hara). Yes I collaborate a lot, because I enjoy collaboration. I also try my best to help my students publish their papers. I believe that it requires some skill to go through the whole process, and it’s much easier if they can work with somebody with some experience.

 

This site and its contents are © 2010 by Shigeto Kawahara.
Layout design by Melanie Pangilinan.