My main research interests are the phonetic and phonological description of tone via experimental work. I consider myself an experimental phonetician, but I also have done work on phonological theory, and as such I am interested in the impacts that phonetic findings can have on phonological theory. I have a specific interest in tone systems where phonation plays a contrastive role in addition to F0. I am currently conducting production and perception studies as part of a three-year kakenhi grant that explores the roles of creakiness in languages which employ creakiness differently, including Zhuang, Burmese and Japanese.
My dissertation investigated the phenomenon of consonant-tone interaction, where in some languages, restrictions exist on which consonants and tones can be adjacent. I focus on Thai, where voiced stop and voiceless unaspirated stop onset consonants are never found immediately preceding high and rising tone vowels. I ran a production study, where it was discovered that among the Thai onset consonants, only voiced and voiceless unaspirated stops are produced with significant glottal constriction. Finally, I ran an experiment that explores how speakers of Thai judge nonce words that contain illicit sequences of onset consonants and tones. While there is much research on illicit segmental sequences, there is considerably less on illicit sequences containing both segmental and tonal units.
My MA thesis, completed at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Douglas Pulleyblank, explored ATR harmony in Yorùbá. Through field work with a speaker of the Mọba dialect of Yorùbá, I discovered that the domain of harmony differed from the standard dialect. I then proposed an Optimality-Theoretic account to account for this. A preliminary version of this research was presented at the 35th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL) in 2004.
I have also co-authored conference presentations (with Dr. Seunghun Lee) that have explored both the phonological and phonetic aspects of tone in Korean and Du’an Zhuang, a minority language of China. Finally, my second qualifying paper at Rutgers explored the location of main sentential prominence in English and I have recently done some research on prosody in Japanese L2 learners of English.