"Mandarin Chinese Tones on English Loanwords." Winnie Paulino, Florida International University. October 3, 2008.

When a tonal language, like Mandarin, borrows a word from a non-tonal language, like English, one of the phonological changes involves tone. Chinese speakers of Mandarin seem to begin by arbitrarily assigning tone to the syllables of a loanword. However, when they are faced with the challenge of writing the loanword in the Chinese logographic writing system, they choose from the existing Chinese characters. These characters represent monosyllabic morphemes in the Chinese language that already have an assigned tone. This extra linguistic artifact dictates how the new loanword is pronounced. In addition, the influence the writing system has on the Chinese language also indicates that the resistance to polysyllabic morphemes is not necessarily a phonological constraint, but instead a consequence of the writing system.

"Requests in Brazilian Portuguese via Email Communication: Usage, Strategies, and Politeness." Melissa Kuhn Fornari, Florida International University. October 16, 2008.

The aim of this study is to investigate what types of requests are produced in Brazilian Portuguese via email communication. In order to do so authentic data was collected and the analysis focused initially on content, what the requests are about, and form or strategy used to perform them. Based on these findings, a discussion on what constitutes high imposition and politeness in Brazilian Portuguese is proposed. The relationship between politeness and indirectness is also analyzed, according to Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory. The results are then confronted with cross-linguistic studies, such as the investigation carried out by Blum-Kulka (1989). The findings reveal a negative correlation between indirectness and politeness in Brazilian Portuguese and by picturing the results in a cross-linguistic framework it is suggested that the representation of politeness among languages follow a culture specific pattern.

"multiDTW, A New Method of the Analysis of the Timing of Continuous Articulatory Movement." Dr. Philip Gleason, Florida International University. November 13, 2008.

At the level of individual phonemes, articulatory timing is influenced by speaking rate, by stress placement, by syllable affiliation of obstruents, and by other factors. The articulators speed up, slow down, and change direction in a non-uniform way that Browman and Goldstein have compared to a orchestral score. For example, increased speaking rate does not uniformly shorten all of the articulatory gestures in a syllable, but shortens the vocalic nucleus of the syllable more than an initial obstruent. Timing is an important factor in phonemic distinctions, and there are fundamental differences in the metrical patterns of languages. In addition, neurological damage is sometimes characterized by changes in speech timing, as with Broca's aphasia. So, a robust method of analyzing speech timing is a valuable tool for the study of speech.

Two basic methods for analyzing timing of articulatory movements have been used: intervals between fixed points, and phase relations derived from the discrete Fourier transform. These methods have shortcomings, and the talk will present a new method of analyzing the timing of continuous articulatory movement. The new method, called multiDTW, is based on dynamic time warping (DTW), a variation of Kruskal's algorithm that is used in string matching, and DNA analysis among other things.

The talk will describe the data which consist of the movements of the tongue tip, tongue blade, lower lip, and jaw during the production of selected contrasting utterances (recorded by a Carstens Medizinelektronk Articulograph), the shortcomings of the existing methods for measuring timing, the multiDTW algorithm, and finally some results of the new analysis.