On Monday, June 3rd, visiting professor Gorka Elordieta (University of the Basque Country) gave an invited presentation for UC San Diego’s Phonology Interest Group. The talk was titled, “Accents, heads and phrases (and lack thereof) in Basque.” Additionally, Gorka recently published two co-authored articles in festschrift volumes in Basque Country. He writes,
One of the papers examines the role of frequency and quality of input on the acquisition of Basque sibilants by four 7-year-old girls in the same educational program of Basque immersion in Navarre but coming from different linguistic backgrounds (Spanish- vs Basque-dominant) and different contexts/degree of contact with Basque (city vs. small town). The four combinations were analyzed (Spanish dominant & city; Spanish-dominant & small town; Basque-dominant & city; Basque dominant & small town). Basque has three fricative and three affricate sibilants, whereas Spanish only has one fricative and one affricate sibilant. We observed the following gradation in proficiency: Basque-dominant & small town > Basque-dominant & city/Spanish-dominant & small town > Spanish-dominant & city. This paper stresses the importance of the quantity and quality of the input in language acquisition (cf. Lieven 2010, Meisel 2011, Grüter & Paradis 2014, among others).
The other paper is a description of the intonational shapes of statements and polar and wh-interrogatives in Spanish by two patients with dysarthria (one from Parkinson’s disease and the other from a stroke). Their data were compared to that of a control speaker. Both speakers deviated from the control speaker in having more prosodic boundaries, namely one after almost each lexical word. However, the speaker who had suffered a stroke pronounced each syllable in a word independently of the others, showing a descending or downstepping ladder-type of intonation within each prosodic word, which ends in a L boundary tone rather than a H tone signaling continuation as in non-pathological speech. The findings in this paper are based on only two speakers, but they constitute a first-stage empirical contribution to an understanding of what intonational parameters may characterize dysarthric speech. In fact, previous references to the prosodic aspects of dysarthric speech in Spanish are rather general, and this would be the first detailed study that we are aware of.