Xinyu Liao


I’m generally interested in language variation and change in minority languages (generally intrigued by Austronesian and Sinitic/Chinese languages), particularly the phonetics-phonology interface underlying the socially motivated sound change. 

  • sound change
  • phonetics-phonology interface 
  • (socio)linguistic variation 
  • documentation of less-studied languages
  • (morpho)syntactic variation and cognitive load
  •  Austronesian languages 


Under the co-supervision of Dr. Jose Elias-Ulloa and Professor Miriam Meyerhoff, my thesis works on vowel shift in an endangered Austronesian language Tsat spoken in Hainan, China. I combined acoustic methods, regression models, and phonological theories (e.g., exemplar theory) to understand the sound change in progress across three generations of Tsat speakers. My thesis also aims to provide a description of the sound system for Tsat, and tries to explore how phonetic variation can shed light on the documentation issues faced with Tsat.

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