cv

research

At its core, my research investigates the nature and computational properties of phonological knowledge, and refines the theoretical mechanisms used to model that knowledge.  My research interests cross-cut formal, fieldwork, computational, and laboratory-based approaches to phonology, focusing on feature spreading and harmony processes.

by topic overview

Gradience in phonology: Using experimental fieldwork data from five Central Asian Turkic languages, I'm investigating whether morphophonological alternations may be gradient.  Phonological theory has traditionally treated phonological features as discrete (+ or -, 1 or 0) variables, but my current work argues that gradience must be incorporated into linguistic theory, affecting both representations and rules/constraints.  This line of work evolved out of earlier work incorporating phonetic gradience into the typology of rounding harmony.

 

•  Dissertation (2019): Gradience and locality in phonology: Case studies from Turkic vowel harmony [pdf]

•  Morphophonology may be gradient: Evidence from Uyghur (2019). Proceedings of AMP 2018 [pdf]

•  Vowel dispersion and Kazakh labial harmony (2018). Phonology 35.2 [pdf] [link]

•  Mayak and the typology of labial harmony (2017).  Supplemental Proceedings of AMP 2016 [pdf]

•  Modeling the gradient evolution and decay of harmony systems. Supplemental Proceedings of AMP 2015 [pdf]

 

 

Computational complexity and the subregular hierarchy: (with Eric Bakovic, Anna Mai, and Eric Meinhardt, UCSD)  Recent proposals argue that segmental processes are subregular and maximally weakly deterministic in the Chomsky hierarchy. Empirically, this work examines these proposals using vowel harmony data from a variety of languages, with an emphasis on ATR harmony in Tutrugbu, a Ghana-Togo Mountain Language.  Formally, this work proposes a crucial to the definition of weakly deterministic regular functions, and explores the subregular region between interaction-free and properly regular functions.

 

•  Questioning to resolve transduction problems. abstract [pdf]

•  Unbounded circumambient patterns (2019). revised manuscript. [pdf]

This manuscript contains more detail about the empirical patterns, with much less on the formal analysis.

•  The expressivity of segmental phonology and the definition of weak determinism (2018). original manuscript [link]

This manuscript focuses more on the formal redefinition of weak determinism and its implications (revisions coming soon).

•  Unbounded harmony is not always myopic (2018, with James Essegbey). Proceedings of WCCFL 35 [pdf]

 

 

Directionality and prominence: (with James Essegbey, University of Florida) Work has debated the role of directionality and prominence in the typology of vowel harmony.  In this work we examine progressive prefix-initiated rounding harmony in Tutrugbu, a Ghana-Togo Mountain languages.  We compare the Tutrugbu pattern with other languages with attested prefix-initiated harmony, arguing that prefix-initiated progressive harmony is always initiated by prominent positions, and as a result, that progressive directionality is not necessary as a theoretical primitive.  In other words, progressive directionality is always derivable from some source of prominence.

 

•  Initial prominence and progressive vowel harmony in Tutrugbu (accepted). Phonological Data & Analysis. pdf coming soon.

 

 

Non-iterativity and decay: (with Darya Kavitskaya, UC Berkeley) It has been argued that non-iterative harmony patterns are problematic for Optimality Theory, and in response, that they are epiphenomenal, always reducible to some other factors.  In this project, we're analyzing rounding harmony in two dialects of Crimean Tatar using production studies from recent fieldwork.  In addition to synchronic concerns, the evolution and decay of harmony in these dialects indicates at least one diachronic pathway through which harmony emerges and decays, namely domain modulation.

 

•  Epiphenomenal and true non-iterative harmony (under review). Oxford handbook of  vowel harmony [pdf]

•  On how and why vowel harmony decays (in prep). Oxford handbook of vowel harmony [pdf]

•  Non-iterative vowel harmony in Crimean Tatar (2018). Proceedings of WCCFL 35 [pdf]

•  Labial harmonic shift in Kazakh: Mapping the pathways and motivations for change. Proceedings of  BLS 41: 329-352. [pdf]

by language overview

Turkic Languages

Transparency, locality, and contrast in Uyghur backness harmony. This paper investigates previous claims that /i/ in Uyghur is transparent to backness harmony, arguing that in fact the high unrounded vowels do alternate for harmony.  The paper also discusses the distribution of these vowels within roots as evidence for a synchronic contrast between these vowels.

 

•  Transparency, locality, and contrast in Uyghur backness harmony. submitted. [pdf]

 

Sonority-driven stress and vowel reduction in Uyghur: This work examines the role of vowel sonority differences in a language with fixed stress, arguing that sonority-sensitivity may exist as a representational distinction between vowels.

 

•  Sonority-driven stress and vowel reduction in Uyghur (2019). paper presented at AMP [slides]

 

Exceptionality in Kazakh: This project involves a description of several morphemes in Kazakh and their interaction with backness harmony in colloquial and literary Kazakh.  I marshal evidence from fieldwork on colloquial Kazakh along with two orthographic copora and one audio corpus of literary Kazakh, contending that exceptional morphemes obey locality restrictions, contradicting one recent claim.  More broadly, this work addresses the importance of data collection methods on linguistic theory.

 

•  The empirical consequences of data collection methods: A case study from Kazakh vowel harmony (2018). Linguistic Discovery 16.2 [pdf]

 

 

Locality and Transparency in Turkic: I'm examining the role of locality in Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uyghur harmony systems.  It has been claimed that Kazakh and Kyrgyz exhibit strictly local harmony, affect both vowels and consonants.  On the other hand, Uyghur is argued to exhibit significant transparency (non-local harmony), and this work assesses these claims from fieldwork data.  Results to-date indicate that harmony in Uyghur, contra previous reports, is local.

 

•  Locality, transparency, and Uyghur backness harmony. 26th Manchester Phonology Meeting [slides]

 

 

JIPA Illustration for Kazakh: (with Si Chen)This paper provides a very basic description of the Kazakh sound system.

 

•  Kazakh (accepted). Journal of the International Phonetic Association [manuscript]

 

Stress and intonational prominence in Kazakh: Whether Kazakh has stress or not has been a contentious issue among Kazakh linguists, and this project offers the first experimental data on the topic.  Further, this project addresses  stress in the context or larger prosodic prominences in the language, providing a basic description of declarative intonational structure in Kazakh.

 

 

Vowel contrasts in Crimean Tatar: (with Darya Kavitskaya, UC Berkeley) The vowel inventory of Crimean Tatar has changed significantly over the past few generations and we are interested in understanding how phonological contrasts relate to both acoustic and perception data.

 

 

Tutrugbu (Kwa, Ghana-Togo Mountain)

ATR harmony: (with James Essegbey, University of Florida). ATR harmony in Tutrugbu, as well as in neighboring Tafi, is more complex than most other vowel harmony patterns.  The complexity of these patterns has played a major role in reshaping our understanding of the computational complexity of segmental phonology.

 

•  Unbounded circumambient patterns (2019). revised manuscript. [pdf]

This manuscript contains more detail about the empirical patterns, with much less on the formal analysis.

•  The expressivity of segmental phonology and the definition of weak determinism (2018). original manuscript [link]

This manuscript focuses more on the formal redefinition of weak determinism and its implications (revisions coming soon).

•  Unbounded harmony is not always myopic (2018, with James Essegbey). Proceedings of WCCFL 35 [pdf]

 

 

Directionality and prominence: (with James Essegbey, University of Florida) Work has debated the role of directionality and prominence in the typology of vowel harmony.  In this work we examine progressive prefix-initiated rounding harmony in Tutrugbu, a Ghana-Togo Mountain languages.  We compare the Tutrugbu pattern with other languages with attested prefix-initiated harmony, arguing that prefix-initiated progressive harmony is always initiated by prominent positions, and as a result, that progressive directionality is not necessary as a theoretical primitive.  In other words, progressive directionality is always derivable from some source of prominence.

 

•  Initial prominence and progressive vowel harmony in Tutrugbu (accepted). Phonological Data & Analysis. pdf coming soon.

 

other miscellaneous papers

Chen, Si; Zhang Caicai; Adam G. McCollum, and Ratree Wayland. 2017. Statistical modelling of phonetic and phonologised perturbation effects in tonal and non-tonal languages. Speech Communication 88: 17-38. [pdf]

 

McCollum, Adam G. 2015. Labial harmony in Kazakh: Descriptive and theoretical issues. Unpublished MA thesis. University of Florida. [pdf]

 

McCollum, Adam G. 2015. Whose graduates are getting jobs in linguistics? [pdf]

This was something that I did one night while deciding on which PhD program to enter. Basically, I took a sample of over 300 university professors' CVs to see where they went to school and when they graduated to get some  data on job placement trends.