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about

who am I? I am a software developer working at JPMorgan, who is also a linguist. I have recently graduated with a PhD in Linguistics at New York University. This personal website is mostly about my work in linguistics, a field I’m planning to never really leave too far behind.
linguistic interests My main interest is subphonemic alternation, such as near merger and incomplete neutralization; and the effect of low-level phonetic detail on higher level phenomena in phonology. I’m currently studying how well phonetic explanations can fare in describing exceptionality in vowel harmony . These interests have led me to work on experimental studies in neurolinguistics, sociolinguistics and phonetics. I am from Budapest, the beautiful capital of Hungary, and I love studying my native language: I have worked on the variation of relative pronouns, subphonemic vowel reduction and (the lack of) secondary stress; and the vocalization and deletion of coda [l] in Hungarian.
dissertation My dissertation explores the possible grounding of exceptionality in vowel harmony. Phonetic explanations of exceptional patterns tend to struggle as these patterns tend to be “unnatural” in a phonetic way. In the dissertation, I’m trying to find out how much exactly phonetic explanations can go; how much we can rely on arbitrary phonotactic regularities of exceptional stems, and how these effects interact. In the end I’d like to end up with a computational model that is enlightening about how vowel harmony can be learned.
first QP (antiharmonicity in Hungarian) My first Qualifying Paper with Gillian Gallagher as my Committee Chair was about whether Hungarian speakers use small acoustic differences to categorize a stem containing a neutral vowel [i] as harmonic or antiharmonic. It has been reported by Benus and Gafos (2007) that there is articulatory difference between the realization of this vowel depending on what kind of stem it is in, even in isolation. I wanted to see, whether Hungarian speakers are able to perceive and use this difference to categorize a wug stem. My results indicate that the acoustic difference between the two categories are very small (~25 Hz in F2), below the perceivable JND. Hungarian speakers were not able to perceive and use a four times bigger difference (100 Hz) for categorization. [download]
second QP (neurolinguistic correlates of near merger) My second Qualifying Paper with Alec Marantz as my Committee Chair was on the neurolinguistic correlates of near merger. My results indicate that the extent of the merger for a speaker can be determined by the amplitude of mismatch negativity of a near-merged deviant-standard pair in an oddball paradigm, when compared to an undoubtedly within-category deviant-standard pair and an undoubtedly between-category deviant-standard pair. [download]
crowdsourcing I am interested in tapping into the power of crowdsourcing when running experiments to get phonetic or phonological judgments on stimuli. I have used the online Experigen framework to find judgments of Hungarian speakers on nonce forms. In our project with Tara McAllister Byun and Peter Halpin, we have shown that using such an experimental framework with Amazon Mechanical Turk can provide a less expensive alternative to obtaining expert judgments on the effect of treatment in speech disorders. We have also been providing support for researchers interested in using crowdsourcing with these techniques — if you’re interested, contact us!
Hungarian projects I also worked with Sylvia Blaho on exploring other kinds of interesting phenomena shown by Hungarian neutral vowels, like judgments of native speakers of the dialects of Budapest Hungarian and Slovakian Hungarian on harmonically vacillating stems [paper]. I also worked on a project with Péter Rácz and Márton Sóskuthy discussing the phonetical realization of Hungarian coda l, and the variable process of deleting l in this environment[poster]. In a less phonologicky domain, I have also done a corpus-based sociolinguistic research on the loss of plurality agreement between Hungarian relative pronouns and their antecedents [paper].
I have served as the Vice President of LANYU (Linguistics Association of NYU), our linguistics graduate student organization in the 2011-12 academic year.
education
2010-2016 New York University, Linguistics PhD with a MacCracken Graduate Fellowship, and a Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship for sixth year funding.
2002-2009 Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Theoretical Linguistics MA, Hungarian Language and Literature MA