Alexis Black and Masaki Noguchi are at BU (without me)

Alexis Black is presenting a study from her dissertation work at BUCLD on Saturday November 5th. The talk is entitled “The impact of phonological knowledge on statistical learning”.

Abstract: Current theories suggest that statistical learning is fundamental to language acquisition; much about the mechanisms underlying this capacity, however, remain unknown. Across 5 experiments we exposed 120 adult participants to an artificial language composed of either native or non-native phonemes for 2-8 minutes. We hypothesized that making the sounds more difficult to perceive and encode would alter the trajectory of the statistical learning process. Participants exposed to non-native sounds failed to distinguish words from part-words until familiarized to 4 times as much stimuli as required for native-language sounds. Learners were sensitive, however, to the difference between familiar and completely novel 3-syllable combinations after only 2 minutes of exposure. After 4 minutes of exposure, this strengthened to include a novel syllable combination at either the beginning or end of the word. These results have implications for thinking about infant learners who are in the process of acquiring their native sound inventory.

And Masaki Noguchi has a poster, also on Saturday. “Learning of talker-specific phonemic contrasts by adults”


“Adult learners’ (non-)acquisition of speaker-specific variation” C Hudson Kam’s poster at Variation in Language Acquisition 2014

I will be presenting the poster “Adult learners’ (non-)acquisition of speaker-specific variation” at the second meeting of Variation in Language Acquisition. The meeting’s taking place in Grenoble, France, December 3-5, 2014. (I’m posting this from the airport after being rebooked once due to a pilot strike, so let’s hope I’ll be presenting the poster.)

BU Poster: Learning phonetic categories with phonotactics: the influence of predictability and phonetic naturalness

The lab is back at BUCLD! The conference, as always, looks really great, and I (Carla) am sorry to have to miss it. But PhD student Masaki Noguchi will be there presenting our poster entitled “Learning phonetic categories with phonotactics: the influence of predictability and phonetic naturalness” during the Friday Poster session. The attended session is Friday, November 7, at 3 pm. Pop by the poster to hear about his dissertation research. Or you can always email us for a copy.

2 Posters at LabPhon 14

It’s a busy week for the Language and Learning Lab. In addition to the paper that just came out, we have some ongoing work being presented at LabPhon 14 in Tokyo. The first is on Friday, July 25, in Poster Session 1. It’s P1-11 “Learning sound categories with phonotactics” by M. Noguchi and C. Hudson Kam. The second is on Sunday, July 27, in Poster Session 3. It’s P3-28 “Phonotactic learning and its interaction with speech segmentation” by A. Black and M. Noguchi. Phd student Masaki Noguchi is presenting both of them. Stop by and check them out if you’re there. If not, just email for a copy.

Fuzzy memories? Developmental differences in the stability of statistically-extracted representations – Poster by Alexis Black, Janet Werker, and Carla Hudson Kam at ISIS 2014

For those of you heading off to Berlin for ISIS 2014, check out poster 3-028 in Poster Session 10. It’s on Saturday from 3:30-5 pm. “Fuzzy memories? Developmental differences in the stability of statistically-extracted representations” is the title of the poster, featuring Alexis Black‘s dissertation work. It looks at developmental differences in statistical learning, comparing infants with adults, looking especially at the robustness of resulting knowledge. If you’re interested, check out the poster, or email her.

LabPhon14 schedule is out, and we’re in it!

The schedule for LabPhon14 in Tokyo is out, and the lab has two posters being presented there.

The first P1-11 Learning sound categories with phonotactics by Masaki Noguchi and Carla Hudson Kam on Friday July 23rd in Poster Session 1 (14:30-16:20).

The second is P3-29 Phonotactic learning and its interaction with speech segmentation by Alexis Black and Masaki Noguchi on Sunday July 27th in Poster Session 3 (13:10-15:00).

Here’s a link to the book of abstracts.

Macaela MacWilliams presenting at MURC UBC

Macaela MacWilliams will be presenting a poster entitled “Input effect in the sensitive period for language acquisition” at the Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference (MURC) here at UBC this upcoming Saturday, March 22, 2014.

It’s a project she worked on as part of her NSERC Undergraduate Research Award last summer. The basic idea behind the project is to see if we can improve adult L2 learning outcomes by manipulating their input such that they learn more like infants do – sound patterns first, meaning later. I don’t want to give away too many of the details, as we will likely be submitting this to our favorite acquisition conference soon…

“The adolescent peak and sound change”: paper being presented by PhD student Emily Sadlier-Brown at CWSL2014

Emily Sadlier-Brown will be presenting a paper entitled “The Adolescent Peak and Sound Change” at the inaugural Cascadia Workshop in Sociolinguistics at the University of Victoria tomorrow, March 1, at 4:15 pm. It’ll be in HHB 116. The paper covers some results of a computational model of a change in progress. It’s work done with Scott Mackie, another PhD student in the department, and me (Carla Hudson Kam).

“Individual-level constraints vs. coordination problems as pressures on emerging languages” Carla Hudson Kam’s poster at the Nijmegen Lectures 2014 Poster Session

Carla Hudson Kam will be presenting a poster entitled “Individual-level constraints vs. coordination problems as pressures on emerging languages” (co-authored with Whitney Goodrich Smith and Alexis Black) at the Nijmegen Lectures 2014 Poster Session on Tuesday January 28th from 16:30-18:00 at the MPI in Nijmegen.

This year’s Nijmegen Lectures are on the evolution of language, culture, and cognition, given by Russell Gray of the University of Auckland. It looks to be a great few days of talks and discussions.

Our poster discusses data from several papers (published and in prep) in the context of what they mean for a) the development of the use of space in emerging signed languages and b) how to think about the forces involved in language emergence more broadly. This work is supported by SSHRC.

If you would like a copy of the poster, just email me at