Dual-Ph.D. in Linguistics and Hispanic Linguistics, Indiana University
Dr. Silvina Bongiovanni's main research area is experimental phonology: she studies the phonetic underpinnings of phonological variation. Bongiovanni's primary focus of inquiry explores variation in nasality (i.e. sounds that are produced with air passing through the nose as well as the mouth), both in vowels and in consonants. In her dissertation, Silvina examined dialectal and phonological differences in anticipatory vowel nasalization (when the nasal consonant follows the vowel, e.g. pan /pán/ ‘bread’) in Dominican and Argentine Spanish by comparing how nasality changes over time (i.e. time-course) and if the word-final nasal consonant is weakened. One important finding was that Spanish anticipatory vowel nasalization and nasal weakening co-vary, but one is not a pre-requisite for the other. Bongiovanni has also researched the merger between /ɲ/ and /nj/ (e.g. huraño ‘unsociable’ vs. uranio ‘uranium’) in Buenos Aires Spanish. She found that older males produce a contrast, whereas females do not —women are leading the sound change. Additionally, Silvina has carried out corpus studies examining sociolinguistic distribution of phonological variants (e.g. aceptar vs. ace[k]tar vs. acetar ‘to accept’), the link between frequency of phonotactic collocations (i.e. combinations of consonants) and phonological variation. I am also interested in the acquisition of phonological systems by second language speakers and have examined the impact of learning context (study abroad vs. at-home) on development of L2 sound systems.