Laboratorio di Linguistica
'Giovanni Nencioni'

















Prosody and Phonotactics



Coordinator: Pier Marco Bertinetto, Chiara Celata

Staff involved: Chiara Bertini, Irene Ricci


Plinio Barbosa (Universidade de Campinas)
Basilio Calderone (CLLE-ERSS CNRS & Université de Toulouse)
Wolfgang U. Dressler (Universität Wien)
Anders Eriksson (Göteborg Universitetet)
Lorenzo Filipponio (Universität Zürich)
Oreste Floquet (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”)
Daniel Hirst (Laboratoire Parole et Langage, Université de Provence)
Katharina Korecky-Kroell (Universität Wien)
Bernard Laks (Université de Paris-Ouest)
Paolo Mairano (Nuance Inc.)
Sylvia Moosmueller (Universität Wien)
Nikolaus Ritt (Universität Wien)
Fabio Tamburini (Università di Bologna)


Ongoing projects

The syllable

The syllable is one of the major prosodic components of natural languages: any speech utterance is composed of syllabic chunks, analisi articolatoria (ArticulateAssistant) whose internal structure depends on language-specific as well as universal constraints. Despite its pervasive presence, the syllable is nowadays considered an epiphenomenal structure by many scholars, both necessitated and constrained by phonotactic pressure, rather than a basic unit of the phonological component. One of our long-standing projects concerns the study of the cognitive representation of the syllable and of the underlying phonotactic constraints. A number of experimental techniques are employed: metalinguistic tasks, on-line psycholinguistic tasks, computational techniques for the modeling of phonotactic constraints.

See also the project "Modèles cognitifs et computationnels du phénomène syllabe" PICS project – CNRS & Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, 2011–2013.

Rhythm and phonotactics

A new speechrhythm model, calledControl/Compensation(CC), has been devised in our lab. It includes the following two levels: (a) Level-I, dealing with phonotactic constraints; (b) Level-II, taking into account the dynamics of sentence prominence.
Under the assumption that phonotactic structure (Level-I) is among the major factors governing speech rhythm, we launched a cross-linguistic project which involves the analyses of several languages by means of a newly created index (CCI = Control/Compensation Index). This index proposes a radically innovatory measure, inasmuch as it is phonologically-oriented rather than merely targeting the phonetic surface.
Concerning Level-II, we analyze the sentence prominences contribution to rhythmic perception. The convergence between human judgments and the output of different algorithms developed in other laboratories is currently evaluated, with the aim of developing tools for the automatic analysis of speech rhythm.

Phonotactics and morphology

Within our collaboration with CLLE/ERSS (CNRS & Université de Toulouse), we developed a computational model that simulates the learning and processing of phonological words in a number of languages (e.g., Italian, French, English and German). The algorithm, based on adaptive learning, is called PHACTS (for 'PHonotactic ACTivation System') and is evaluated with respect to the native speakers' performance in phonological similarity tasks, wordlikeness experiments and non-word production processes. The psycho-computational experiments aim at verifying the role of phonotactics in the speaker's processing of morphologically complex words.

See also the project "Phonotactic effects on morphological structure – Psycho-computational studies on Italian, French, English and German" (ESF-funded project 2012).



PhD dissertations


Zhi Na (2012): A study on form and function of prosody based on acoustics, interpretation and modelling, with evidence from the analysis by synthesis of Mandarin Chinese prosody. External supervisors: D. Hirst – G. Marotta.

Basilio Calderone (2008): Unsupervised Learning of Linguistic Structures. External supervisors: T. Honkela - B. Laks - A. Lenci.



Phonotactic grammar: theories and models (2012)

Second International Workshop on Phonotactics and Phonotactic Modeling (2013)


Recent publications

CALDERONE Basilio, Chiara CELATA, Katharina KORECKY-KROELL & Wolfgand U. DRESSLER (2014, in press). A computational approach to morphonotactics: Evidence from German. Language Sciences.

CALDERONE Basilio & Chiara CELATA 2012. PHACTS about activation-based word similarity effects. Proceedings of the EACL 2012 Workshop on Computational Models of Language Acquisition and Loss, Avignon, April 24th, 2012.

CELATA Chiara & Basilio CALDERONE 2012. Restrizioni fonotattiche, patterns lessicali e recupero delle regolarità morfologiche. Dati computazionali e comportamentali. In V. BAMBINI, I. RICCI, P.M. BERTINETTO & Collaboratori (eds.), Linguaggio e cervello – Semantica / Language and the brain – Semantics. Atti del XLII Congresso Internazionale di Studi della Società di Linguistica Italiana. Roma: Bulzoni, Vol. II – I.D.1: 1-23.

BERTINI Chiara, Pier Marco BERTINETTO & ZHI Na 2011. Chinese and Italian speech rhythm. Normalization and the CCI algorithm. Proceedings of Interspeech2011. Firenze, August 28th -31st, 2011.

BERTINI Chiara, Matias TARANTO & Pier Marco BERTINETTO 2011. Rhythmic Index Elaborator (RIE) come strumento di indagine della struttura ritmica. Un’applicazione al pisano semi-spontaneo vs letto. In GILI FIVELA Barbara, Antonio STELLA, Luigia GARRAPA & Mirko GRIMALDI (eds.), Contesto comunicativo e variabilità nella produzione e percezione della lingua. Atti del VII Convegno Nazionale AISV. Roma: Bulzoni.

CALDERONE Basilio & Chiara CELATA 2011. Paradigm-aware morphological categorizations. Lingue e Linguaggio 10 (2), 183-207.

CELATA Chiara, Basilio CALDERONE & Fabio MONTERMINI 2011. Phonological detail for accessing morphological structures. Human and artificial responses in comparison. TAL-Traitement Automatique du Langage 52 (2), 123-149.

ZHI Na, Pier Marco BERTINETTO & Chiara BERTINI 2011. Modeling the speech rhythm of Beijing Chinese in the CCI framework. Proceedings of the XVIIth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Hong Kong, August 17th -21st, 2011.

BERTINETTO Pier Marco & Chiara BERTINI 2010. Towards a unified predictive model of natural language rhythm. In RUSSO Michela (ed.), Prosodic Universals. Comparative studies in rhythmic modeling and rhythm typology. Napoli: Aracne. 43-77.

BERTINETTO Pier Marco, Chiara BERTINI & Lorenzo GUIDUGLI 2010. A Control/Compensation account of spontaneous German speech rhythm. Proceedings of the 2010 Deutscher Italianistentag, Regensburg, March 3rd-5th, 2010.

CALDERONE Basilio & Pier Marco BERTINETTO 2009. La sillaba come stabilizzatore di forze fonotattiche. Una modellizzazione. In FERRARI Giacomo, Ruben BENATTI & Monica Mosca (eds.), Linguistica e modelli tecnologici di ricerca. Atti del XL Congresso Internazionale della Società di Linguistica Italiana (SLI). Roma: Bulzoni. 401-410.

BERTINETTO Pier Marco & Chiara BERTINI 2008. On modeling the rhythm of natural languages. In BARBOSA Plinio, Sandra MADUREIRA & Cesar REIS (eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2008. Universidade de Campinas. 427-430.

BERTINETTO Pier Marco, Sylwia SCHEUER, Katarzina DZIUBALSKA-KOLACZYK, Maddalena AGONIGI 2007. Intersegmental cohesion and syllable division in Polish. Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Saarbrücken. 1953-1956.

last up-dating: January 2015




Speech production and perception

Prosody and Phonotactics

Verb Features

Experimental Pragmatics and Neuropragmatics

Morphosyntactic Investigations

Endangered languages

Corpora building and maintenance