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Research

Interests

Language learners need to carry out several tasks in order to be said to have “acquired” the sound system of his or her language. In particular, they must take the highly-varied, large amount of information of the input, and condense this information into meaningful, functional categories. My research revolves around analyzing how acquisition at one level of categorization affects categories at other levels.

 

Categories exist at all levels of language. The more recognizable types of categories are phonemes, which are said to potentially consist of multiple phones or allophones. Perhaps less recognizable types of categories are phones. Phones are typically treated as being wholly acoustic atomic units, yet they themselves are also made up of a group of sounds with variant pronunciations, the boundaries of which must be acquired. Therefore, “phones” themselves are also a type of category (“phonetic category”). Even words themselves are types of categories which must be acquired. Other types of categories that language learners must acquire are “phonologically active classes,” groups of phonemes which participate in or trigger a phonological rule, or exemplify a phonotactic restriction. For the most part, these categories are studied in isolation from one another, under an implicit assumption that they are formed in different stages. However, acquiring a language means acquiring a fully functional system, not isolated categories. Because of this, I am interested in seeing how the learning of phonetic, phonological, lexical categories may influence properties of phonetic, phonological, and lexical categories.


I am also involved in UNC's Karen Research Group, which documents Sgaw Karen, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand, and in UNC's Tigrinya Research Group, which documents Tigrinya (Tigrigna), a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea. In an effort to create resources for speakers of under-resourced languages, we have created TULIP Language Games, a collection of free online games aimed at children. So far we have games in Cherokee, S'gaw Karen, Taiwanese, and Tigrinya.

 

To see an English-Karen dictionary and grammar developed by the Karen Research Group, see our Karen website (I've run out of webspace, so this link is broken at the moment -- please contact me if you would like me to send you our dictionary and grammar).

Papers

Moeng, Emily. 2017. Distributional learning on Mechanical Turk and effects of attentional shifts. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). Available at: http://journals.linguisticsociety.org/proceedings/index.php/PLSA/article/view/4105/3805.


Moeng, Emily and Will Carter. Submitted. Factors in the Affrication of the Ejective Alveolar Fricative in Tigrinya. Proceedings of the 47th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL). Draft.


Moeng, Emily. 2016. Comparing the distributional learnability of vowels, glides, and stops in French child-directed speech. Proceedings of the 40th Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD). Available at: http://www.bu.edu/bucld/files/2016/09/BUCLD-2016-Moeng1.pdf.


Moeng, Emily, Jennifer Boehm & Amy Reynolds. 2016. Modeling the interlanguage: The effect of frequency in the L2 acquisition of English consonant clusters. Proceedings of the Seventh Meeting of the Illinois Language and Linguistics Society. Available here.


Moeng, Emily. 2015. Acquiring Phonemes: Is Frequency or the Lexicon the Dominant Cue? University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Vol. 21: Iss. 1, Article 21. Available at: http://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol21/iss1/21.


Moeng, Emily. 2012. Do phonologically active classes warp the perceptual space? (Master's thesis). University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.


Workshops

Moeng, Emily. 2017. Introduction to Using Mechanical Turk for Linguistics Research. To be presented at the Pronunciation in Second Language Learning & Teaching (PSLLT) Research Methods Workshop, September 1-2.


Poster Presentations

Moeng, Emily. 2017. “Anti"-distributional learning on Mechanical Turk. Poster presented at LSA, Austin, TX, January 5-8.


Moeng, Emily. 2017. Defining "high quality" tokens of tone in Mandarin Infant-Directed Speech.” Poster presented at LSA, Austin, TX, January 5-8.


Moeng, Emily. 2015. Distributions of individual segments and of phonological features. Poster presented at BUCLD 40, Boston, MA, November 13-15.


Moeng, Emily, Jennifer Boehm & Amy Reynolds. 2015. Modeling Frequency Effects in L2 Acquisition of English Consonant Clusters. Poster presented at the Illinois Language and Linguistics Society's 7th Conference (ILLS), April 17-18.


Moeng, Emily. 2015. How do infants pick out “high quality” vowel tokens when acquiring phoneme categories? Poster presented at the 89th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), Portland, OR, January 8-11.


Talks and Conference Presentations

Moeng, Emily. "Learning non-local and local dissimilation." To be presented at the Second Language Research Forum (SLRF), October 12-15.


Moeng, Emily and William Carter. 2016. "Variable affrication of the ejective fricative in Tigrinya." Presented at the 47th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL), March 23-26.


Moeng, Emily. 2015. "Glides exhibit less variance than vowels: Support for the CV Hypothesis." Presented at the Second Interdisciplinary Linguistics Conference at UGA, October 9-11.


Moeng, Emily. 2015. "Distributional information in child-directed speech depends on the type of phoneme." Presented at the Illinois Language and Linguistics Society's 7th Conference (ILLS), April 17-18.


Moeng, Emily. 2015. "Acquiring phonemes: What distributional information do infants receive in child-directed speech?" Presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL), April 9-11.


Boehm, Jen, Emily Moeng, and Amy Reynolds. 2015. "Modeling English phonological structures: A case study of frequency effects in S'gaw Karen speakers." Presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL), April 9-11.


Moeng, Emily. 2014. "Acquiring Phonemes: Is Frequency or the Lexicon the Primary Cue?" Presented at the 38th Annual Penn Linguistics Conference (PLC), March 28-30. Handout.


Moeng, Emily. 2014. "The Acquisition of Phonemes." Presented at the UNC Linguistics Department Spring Colloquium, March 22.


Moeng, Emily. 2014. "Classifiers in Sgaw Karen." Guest lecture. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, March 19.


Grants and Awards

Grant for developing TULIP Language Games, 2016. Carolina Asia center.


Department Research Grant, 2016. UNC Linguistics Department (Craver Fund).


Department Travel Grant, 2015. UNC Linguistics Department (Craver Fund).


Top Abstract Award, 2015. Illinois Language and Linguistics Society 7.


National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, 2015.


Department Travel Grant, 2015. UNC Linguistics Department (Melchert Fund).


Department Travel Grant, 2014. UNC Linguistics Department (Melchert Fund).


Department Research Grant, 2014. UNC Linguistics Department (Melchert Fund).