Kristine Yu

Assistant Professor
Department of Linquistics
Kristine Yu’s primary area of study is tone and intonation in human language (Samoan, Somali)—the way in which we use variations in vocal pitch to indicate contrasts in: 1) word meanings (e.g., in Mandarin, ma pronounced with a flat, high pitch means “mother,” but pronounced with a falling-rising pitch means “horse”), 2) grammatical structures (e.g., in Somali, one ox is dibi with a high tone on “di,” but oxen is dibi with a high tone on “bi”), and 3) pragmatic meaning (e.g., in English, “No, BOBBY came to lunch yesterday” would be an appropriate answer to “Did George come to lunch yesterday?,” but “No, Bobby came to DINNER yesterday” would be an appropriate answer to “Did Bobby come to lunch yesterday?”

Her current area of focus is on studying the acoustic dimensions of tonal contrasts marking word meanings in a variety of languages, e.g., Bole (Nigeria), Cantonese (China), and Hmong (Laos, China), and the role of tone and intonation in recovering syntactic structure from an utterance as it is being spoken.

Recent Publications: 
  • Kristine M. Yu. “The Experimental State of Mind in Elicitation: Illustrations from Tonal Fieldwork.” Forthcoming in Language Documentation & Conservation. [manuscript supplementary materials]
  • Kristine M. Yu and Hiu Wai Lam. 2014. “The Role of Creaky Voice in Cantonese Tone Perception.” JASA 136(3): 1320-33. [web, pdf, supplementary materials]
  • Kie Zuraw, Kristine M. Yu, and Robyn Orfitelli. 2014. “The Word-Level Prosody of Samoan.” Phonology 31(2):  271-327. [web, pdf]
Keywords: "Somoan" -> Samoan.  Also currently a bunch of them are biology related (I used to do biology), but if that seems a bit weird, you can change them to more linguistics ones, e.g. "phonology, phonetics, prosody, tone, intonation, voice quality, syntax-prosody"
On her ISSR experience: “So far I’ve found  it very, very helpful for navigating putting together a grant!”