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Christian DiCanio

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Haskins Laboratories
300 George Street, Suite. 900
New Haven, CT 06511

Phone: (203) 865-6163 x289
Fax: (203) 865-8963
Email: dicanio at haskins dat yale dat edu

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Research Scientist, Haskins Laboratories
Lecturer in Phonetics, Linguistics, Yale University

About me

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I am a research scientist at Haskins Laboratories at Yale University. I am funded through a National Science Foundation grant with Douglas Whalen (PI). Under the grant, we are investigating the phonetics of various endangered languages using corpus documentation data. The idea here is to determine the validity of documentation data for creating descriptive phonetic work and, furthermore, for responding to theoretical questions in the phonetics literature using corpus methods.

I am a phonetician and a fieldworker. I am interested in many aspects of speech production and perception, but my research has focused mainly on suprasegmental contrasts (tone, length, phonation, stress, prosody). My research focuses on all aspects of tone production, but I have particular interests in the production and perception of tonal cues, in how prosody and tone interact, and in the relation between voice quality (phonation) and tone. In addition to my phonetic work, I am interested in linguistic description, morphophonology, lexicography, and ethnobotany.

I investigate these topics in different Oto-Manguean languages, which are all indigenous languages spoken in Mexico (and incidentally, Oto-Manguean is the largest language family in the Americas). These languages interest me partly because they have the most complex tonal systems found anywhere in the world (with up to 12 tones on a single unit), they have complex segmental inventories, and they have complex grammatical processes involving these things as well. Some of the patterns found in these languages push the limits of what we believe is possible in any human language. If we are to take seriously the idea that linguistic theories are theories of language and not languages, then we have to test such theories on a diversity of languages.

Yet, I am also endlessly fascinated with the rich ethnic diversity to be found in the many indigenous languages of Mexico. These languages and cultures have something important to show the world and I love being a part of this. Since 2004, I have done fieldwork on San Martín Itunyoso Trique, a Trique language spoken in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, Mexico. In Fall 2009, I began collaborating on fieldwork on the Ixcatec language, a moribund language in Oaxaca, Mexico with only a few remaining speakers. In Fall 2010, I began collaborating on fieldwork on Yoloxóchitl Mixtec, a little-described language in San Luis Acatlán, Guerrero, Mexico. This latter project is funded by the National Science Foundation with linguist Jonathan Amith (Gettysburg College) as the principle investigator and Rey Castillo (CIESAS) as collaborators.