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Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Contour Tones in Luganda: Phonetics or Phonology?

Dutcher, Katherine Mary ('09);  Paster, Mary

The ability of different syllable types to bear contour tones has traditionally been explained by a phonological model, using tone-bearing units known as moras. An alternative model to the phonological approach is the phonetic model, in which the mora plays no role, and it is syllable duration and/or sonority determines the ability of the contour tone to occur on a given syllable. Research conducted using phonetic software on sound recordings has shown that in Luganda, contour tones occur on syllable types on which they would not be permitted to occur under the phonetic model, but which are predicted by the phonological model. After concluding that tone in Luganda follows a phonological and not a phonetic model, I am undertaking a complete theoretical description of the tonal structures of the language. Much progress has been made in describing Luganda’s contour tones within the theoretical structures of a phonological approach to tone.
Funding provided by: The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award

Effects of Emotional Arousal on Memory

Manhas, Robert ('09);  Burke, Deborah; Graham, Elizabeth*
*Claremont Graduate University, Claremont CA

Emotion has two dimensions: valence and arousal. Valence represents the positivity/negativity of an emotion and arousal represents how exciting it is. This experiment investigated the effects of arousal by testing memory for high arousal, negative words compared to low arousal, negative and low arousal, neutral words. Young and older participants studied the word lists with full attention or divided attention (by simultaneously performing an attention-demanding auditory task). Following the neural processes uncovered by Kensinger and Corkin (2004), it was hypothesized that the auditory task would be detrimental for memorization of the low arousal words, but not for high arousal words. Results, although not statistically significant, were consistent with these predictions. In a second experiment in progress, we are testing young adults using better controlled neutral words and a slightly different design paradigm. The results from this experiment will be critical for assessing the role of emotional arousal in memory.
Funding provided by: The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award

Research at Pomona