Sabine Zerbian

Sabine Zerbian
Universität Stuttgart · Institute of Linguistics

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67
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Publications

Publications (67)
Article
Full-text available
We argue for a perspective on bilingual heritage speakers as native speakers of both their languages and present results from a large-scale, cross-linguistic study that took such a perspective and approached bilinguals and monolinguals on equal grounds. We targeted comparable language use in bilingual and monolingual speakers, crucially covering br...
Article
Full-text available
The article analyses violations of the Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP) above the word level in Tswana, a Southern Bantu language, by investigating the realization of adjacent lexical high tones across word boundaries. The results show that across word boundaries downstep (i.e. a lowering of the second in a series of adjacent high tones) only tak...
Article
Full-text available
Heritage speakers (HSs) are known to differ from monolingual speakers in various linguistic domains. The present study focuses on the syntactic properties of monolingual and heritage Russian. Using a corpus of semi-spontaneous spoken and written narratives produced by HSs of Russian residing in the US and Germany, we investigate HSs’ word order pat...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigates the segmental lengthening patterns resulting from prosodic boundaries in Tswana, a Southern Bantu language. The aim is to shed light on the interaction between Penultimate Lengthening and Final Lengthening, providing the first quantitative investigation of these phenomena in Tswana. We conducted a production experiment that...
Article
Full-text available
A phoneme-detection task shows that listeners of Sepedi use semantic information in processing but not prosody (Experiment 1). Sepedi is a language with no grammaticalised prosodic expression of focus. Sepedi listeners detected phoneme targets faster when the phoneme-bearing words were focussed (as opposed to unfocussed) but not when occurring in a...
Chapter
English in Multilingual South Africa - edited by Raymond Hickey November 2019
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Speakers of both English and German prefer an alternation of strong and weak syllables. In cases of stress clash, repair strategies may be employed to restore alternation (thirtéen → thírteen mén), a process referred to as the "rhythm rule". It is not entirely clear how the rhythm rule interacts with prominences above the lexical level, such as in...
Conference Paper
We propose two new hypotheses concerning the occurrence of non-focused stressed pronouns in spontaneous spoken German, one referring to the prosodic structure of the spoken utterance, and the other referring to the syntactic structure in which the pronoun occurs. Based on pilot data from a corpus of spoken German by monolingual and bilingual speake...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present a neural-based approach to the detection of pronunciation errors in non-native speech, which enables feature-based user feedback in a computer-assisted pronunciation training scenario. Error diagnoses that make reference to phonological classes provide the user with detailed articulatory information, rather than just pointing out mispron...
Article
Full-text available
The project Breaking the Unwritten Language Barrier (BULB), which brings together linguists and computer scientists, aims at supporting linguists in documenting unwritten languages. In order to achieve this we develop tools tailored to the needs of documentary linguists by building upon technology and expertise from the area of natural language pro...
Conference Paper
Sepedi (Southern Bantu, S30) does not have grammaticalized focus prosody due to which focused constituents are unambiguously marked by prosodic prominence in one way or another. Nevertheless, prosodic traces of emphasis might still exist. The paper reports on a study that investigates acoustic traces of emphasis in Sepedi and their role for process...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This article reports on a study investigating the intonational realization of context-changing and context-preserving contrastive topics in German. Results of the pilot study show that both kinds of topics can be marked by different pitch accents on the topic constituent, although speaker-specific differences emerge. When speakers do use different...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The article investigates the realization of adjacent high tones across word boundaries in Tswana, a Southern Bantu language. The results show that downstep, a lowering of the second in a series of adjacent high tones, takes place across word boundaries within the same phonological phrase. Downstep does not occur across phonological phrase boundarie...
Article
The article presents results of an elicited-production study investigating syntactic and prosodic consequences of language contact on two varieties of multilingual Black speakers of South African English, namely Black South African English (BlSAfE) and a newly emerging variety by Black speakers (“crossing over variety”). The results indicate that c...
Article
We report on a study that aimed to improve an existing tone label prediction algorithm for Sesotho, an official language of South Africa. Tone is an important prosodic feature of Sesotho, since speakers use tone to distinguish meaning. In order to implement tone in a Text-to-Speech system for Sesotho, a tone modeling algorithm must receive as input...
Chapter
The chapter presents a markedness scale of sentence prosody that allows formulating predictions concerning linguistic differences in language contact, based on the general assumption that marked features are prone to change. It builds on the markedness scale of sentence accent that has been proposed for foreign language acquisition by Rasier and Hi...
Article
Full-text available
Information structure has been one of the central topics of recent linguistic research. This review discusses a wide range of current approaches with particular reference to African languages, as these have been playing a crucial role in advancing our knowledge about the diversity of and recurring patterns in both meaning and form of information st...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Results of a pilot study are presented which investigates the prosodic realization of information structure by six learners of German as a Foreign Language (GFL) with Turkish as first language. Question-answer pairs were read out loud, which systematically varied the position of narrow focus in the response by means of a preceding wh-question. A qu...
Article
Results of a pilot study are presented which investigates the prosodic realization of information structure by six learners of German as a Foreign Language (GFL) with Turkish as first language. Question-answer pairs were read out loud, which systematically varied the position of narrow focus in the response by means of a preceding wh-question. A qu...
Article
This paper reports on an elicited production study which investigates prosodic marking of narrow focus in modified noun phrases in varieties of South African English. The acoustic analysis of fundamental frequency, intensity, and duration in narrow focus is presented and discussed. The results suggest that these three acoustic parameters are manipu...
Article
The article gives a description of the tones occurring with locatives in Tswana. Assuming a background in the morphology and semantics in locative formation it states the tones of the locative suffix -ng and the locative morphemes gá-, gó-, fá, kwá (kố), and mố, and describes how the suffix and the prefixes influence the tone of their base noun. It...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this paper, two methods that determine the tonal pattern of sentences in Sesotho are compared: surface tone transcription and Fujisaki model. The tone commands of the latter technique, which represent high tones, are compared with the high surface tones predicted by the tone rules. The mismatched syllables are investigated in order to account fo...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This article discusses the empirical assessments employed on two versions of a Sesotho tone labeling algorithm. This al-gorithm uses linguistically-defined Sesotho tonal rules to pre-dict the tone labels on the syllables of Sesotho words. The two versions differed in the number of tonal rules that they employ as well the lexical categories that the...
Article
It has been widely observed in the literature that not only learner varieties but also contact varieties differ in their prosody from the standard variety. The article aims at providing a unified account to the linguistic variation in prosodic focus marking found across learner and contact varieties of the same language, South African English. The...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We report on a study that involved the development of a corpus used to verify the performance of two tone labelling algorithms, with one algorithm being an improvement on the other. These algorithms were developed for speech synthesis pur-poses with the aim of improving the perceived naturalness as well as the intelligibility of the speech produced...
Article
We present findings of a multi-speaker production study that was undertaken to investigate the realisation of two adjacent high tones within the verb word in Northern Sotho, a Southern Bantu language. Experimental tokens are selected to ensure that the high tones originate from different combinations of morphosyntactic constituents. It is found tha...
Article
The paper describes recent developments in the study of intonation as they contribute to the goal of an intonational typology. Although intonation research is a long-established research field, investigations of cross-linguistic variation in intonation are more recent. The availability of technological support has advanced the field tremendously, b...
Article
Previous studies have shown that characteristics of a person's first language (L1) may transfer to a second language (L2). The current study looks at the extent to which this holds for aspects of intonation as well. More specifically, we investigate to what extent traces of the L1 can be discerned in the way intonation is used in the L2 for two fun...
Article
The paper addresses second language teaching of phonetic, phonological and prosodic features in the Sotho-Tswana languages (Southern Bantu) from a linguistic perspective. It motivates the inclusion of phonetic, phonological and prosodic background knowledge in second language teaching, and singles out potential areas of learners’ difficulties based...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Data from lesser-studied languages help to delineate parameters of typological variation. The paper presents experimental work on prosodic marking of information structure in selected African languages. The languages investigated exemplify the cross-linguistic variety found in prosodic focus marking by either lacking marking of information structur...
Article
Full-text available
This article reports on a perception study that was carried out with Zulu-English bilinguals in order to investigate how suprasegmental aspects differ in Black South African English compared to White English-speaking South African English. Two prosodic phenomena were investigated: prosodic focus marking on noun phrases (NPs) and prosodic boundary m...
Article
The morpho-syntax of relative clauses in Sotho-Tswana is relatively well-described in the literature. Prosodic characteristics, such as tone, have received far less attention in the existing descriptions. After reviewing the basic morpho-syntactic and semantic features of relative clauses in Tswana, the current paper sets out to present and discuss...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This article reports on a study that involves im-proving a tone label prediction algorithm. Tone is an important prosodic feature for Bantu languages since these languages use it to distinguish meaning. Studies have shown that text-to-speech systems need detailed prosodic models of a language in order to sound natural to native speakers of the lang...
Article
Full-text available
This article reports on a production study that investigates the realisation of a single high tone in the verbal constituent in Northern Sotho, a Bantu language spoken in South Africa. The parameters of variation investigated are based on existing descriptive and theoretical literature and relate to numbers of syllables in the verb stem, morphosynt...
Article
Inversion structures, in which the logical subject appears in postverbal position, are a wide-spread phenomenon among Bantu languages. The paper presents an overview of inversion structures in Bantu languages and describes in detail the inversion constructions in the Southern Bantu language Northern Sotho. It argues that Northern Sotho shows only o...
Article
This article investigates the phenomenon of rhoticity in the speech of black speakers of South African English. Historically, South African English is non-rhotic. Thus, any shift towards a rhotic variant is a significant language change. Thirty-nine interviews were conducted with both males and female participants. The two groups were evenly split...
Article
Palatalization of labial sequences is a well-known phenomenon in the Southern Bantu languages. This paper re-investigates the trigger for palatalization in passive and diminutive formation as well as in environments of juxtaposed vowels. It argues for palatalization being uniformly triggered by a palatal glide. The palatal glide is not necessarily...
Article
Full-text available
Much,is already,known,about,the prosodic,systems,of the,indigenous,South African languages,from,descriptions,and,analyses,in the,existing literature. All of the,existing work,has been,carried out in the field of African studies or formal linguistics. In order to be able to implement the generalisations obtained into computational models in speech p...
Chapter
The paper contributes to the ongoing debate on the expression of information structure in the languages of the world by investigating prosodic focus marking in Northern Sotho, a Bantu language spoken in South Africa. It presents the results of a production and perception study that shows the absence of prosodic focus marking in this tone language....
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Tone in Bantu languages is rarely studied experimentally. This paper reports a production study which reveals the intricate interaction of tonal context and morphological structure in surface tone realization in Sepedi, a South African Bantu language. Index Terms: tone, morphological structure, Bantu language
Article
The article discusses penultimate lengthening and the finality restriction in Northern Sotho, a Bantu language of South Africa. These suprasegmental rules crucially refer to prosodic structure in the definition of their domain of application. Relying partially on acoustic evidence, the article shows that the prosodic domains at whose right edges le...
Article
Full-text available
The collection of papers in this volume presents results of a collaborative project between the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, the Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie und Universalienforschung (ZAS) in Berlin, and the University of Leiden. All three institutions have a strong interest in the linguistics of...
Article
This article gives an overview of the marking of polar and constituent questions in Northern Sotho, a Bantu language of South Africa. It thereby provides a contribution to the typological investigation of sentence types in the world's languages. As will be shown, Northern Sotho follows cross-linguistic tendencies in marking interrogative sentences:...
Article
This article gives an overview of the marking of polar and constituent questions in Northern Sotho, a Bantu language of South Africa. It thereby provides a contribution to the typological investigation of sentence types in the world's languages. As will be shown, Northern Sotho follows cross-linguistic tendencies in marking interrogative sentences:...
Article
Die Hauptthese dieser Dissertation ist, dass Nord-Sotho keinen obligatorischen Gebrauch von grammatischen Mitteln zur Markierung von Fokus macht, weder in der Syntax noch in der Prosodie oder Morphologie. Trotzdem strukturiert diese Sprache eine Äußerung nach informationsstrukturellen Aspekten. Konstituenten, die im Diskurs gegeben sind, werden ent...
Article
The collection of papers in this volume presents results of a collaborative project between the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, the Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie und Universalienforschung (ZAS) in Berlin, and the University of Leiden. All three institutions have a strong interest in the linguistics of...
Article
This paper investigates how syntax and focus interact in deriving the phonological phrasing of utterances in Xhosa, a Bantu language spoken in South Africa. Although the influence of syntax on phrasing is uncontroversial, a purely syntactic analysis cannot account for all the data reported for Xhosa by Jokweni (1995). Focus influences the phrasing...
Article
Full-text available
We introduce an algorithm to derive word-level tone assignments for the Sotho-Tswana languages. Prerequisite inputs are identified, and the steps to transform these inputs to tone assignments for each syllable are described. Manual implementation of the algorithm shows very good agreement with tone levels measured in a small Sotho-Tswana corpus.
Article
The paper reports on an elicited production study that investigates prosodic marking of narrow focus in contact varieties of South African English. The acoustic analysis of fundamental frequency and intensity in narrow focus is presented and discussed. The results suggest that intensity is used differently in the contact varieties as compared to th...

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Projects (3)
Project
This project investigates the dynamics in the linguistic expression of information structure in the repertoires of heritage language speakers. Its research questions directly emerge from pertinent findings from the first phase of the Research Unit “Emerging Grammars” (RUEG1). The project will investigate three aspects of information structure: (i) introduction of referents, (ii) topic constructions, and (iii) focus and prosody. We will investigate these phenomena in the RUEG corpus of bilingual and majority speakers of German, English, Russian, Greek and Turkish. The intricate interplay of (morpho)syntax and intonation for the expression of information structure has been shown to be open to new developments in the language contact contexts in which we collected data in RUEG1. Therefore, we investigate the interplay of information structure with syntax and intonation in a comparative perspective, and relate our research questions to the new Joint Ventures of the Research Unit.
Archived project
Develop and implement a tone labeling algorithm for Sesotho