Linguistics Department Ladefoged Scholarship Awards

Department of Linguistics

Peter Ladefoged Ladefoged Scholarship Awards are made from the fund established in memory of Peter Ladefoged (1925-2006), one of the foremost research faculty in the department.

These awards go to graduate students in the Linguistics Department to offset the expenses of student research projects (other than for consultants or subjects, which are already covered by separate departmental funds). For example, awards can be used for expenses related to carrying out laboratory experiments or for linguistic fieldwork, such as transportation, development of stimuli, recruitment, or undergraduate research assistance not available from other sources. These awards are not intended to replace existing funding mechanisms inside or outside the department. The research supported must be the graduate student’s own research; faculty research projects cannot be supported in this way.

UCLA Linguistics graduate students who are applying for the Scholarship should consult this page.

We welcome contributions to the Peter Ladefoged Scholarship Fund at any time, e.g. via the department's Support webpage.

Completed and Ongoing Ladefoged Scholarship Award Projects

Victoria Philp Thatte Victoria Philp Thatte (2009) - Victoria Thatte’s research explores how infants go about learning the sounds of their first language. The study partially funded by the Ladefoged Scholarship investigates whether 4.5-month-old English-learning infants listen longer to syllable-initial voiceless fricatives (“foo”) than voiced ones (“voo”). So far, the results indicate that this is in fact the case, which means that infants must have some awareness of either: (1) the fact that voiceless fricatives are more common at the beginnings of syllables in English than voiced fricatives, or (2) the phonetic properties of voiceless fricatives that make them crosslinguistically more common than voiceless ones.
Natasha Abner (2009). Natasha Abner's research focuses primarily on the formal syntactic and semantic properties of American Sign Language (ASL). Her work has shown that apparent optionality among question structures in the language is, instead, motivated by the semantic properties of each structure. The funds provided by the Ladefoged Scholarship are being used to transcribe a video corpus of naturally occurring ASL data. Once transcribed, these data will provide a more adequate means of investigating the contextual appropriateness of syntactically distinct question structures in ASL.
Kristine Yu (2010). Kristine Yu's current research is about modeling how kids could learn tonal categories in tonal languages (languages where differences in pitch signal contrasts in lexical meaning). A big component of the project is to first understand what the kids are trying to learn, i.e. to study how tones themselves are defined in (language-specific) multidimensional acoustic spaces, and thus she has been collecting tonal production data in a representative sample of tonal languages of the world. The Ladefoged Scholarship helped fund fieldwork on the phonetic implementation of tone in a dialect of Hmong, a language of Southeast Asia with large populations of speakers in Fresno, CA and St. Paul, MN. She recorded speakers in Fresno saying the seven different tones of White Hmong in phrases and sentences and is currently analyzing the data. She chose to include White Hmong in the sample because it includes a "breathy" tone, a tone in which speakers sound like they are exhaling as they speak. There are a number of tone languages like Hmong in which voice quality cues in addition to pitch cues distinguish tonal categories, and she hopse to understand them better using Hmong as a model system. The data and analyses of the Hmong recordings and recordings of all the other languages in the project will be available on her webpage later this year.
Robin Orfitelli Robyn Orfitelli (2010),  Robyn Orfitelli's research concerns the first language acquisition of subject-to-subject raising sentences (e.g. 'Flossie seems to Freddy to be wearing a hat'). Previous work has found children to have non-adult comprehension of such sentences until as late as 6-years-old. The Ladefoged scholarship is partially funding a series of studies which investigates three possible explanations for children's non-adult performance: (1) specific lexical items (e.g. 'seem to' versus 'tend to', 'be likely to', or 'be about to'), (2) the presence of an additional 'experiencer' argument (e.g. 'Freddy' in the initial example), or (3) some feature the syntactic operation which underlies raising itself.