Christina Bjorndahl

Ph.D Candidate, Department of Linguistics, Cornell University

Visiting Scholar, Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University

cjm295 AT cornell DOT edu; cbjorn AT andrew DOT cmu DOT edu

Christina Bjorndahl Broadly, I'm interested in phonological categories: What are they? How are they formed? What's the evidence for them? How do they relate to the phonetic substrate? In more traditional terms, I study features, segments and inventories and the way they play together at the phonology-phonetics interface. In particular, I focus on phonologically ambiguous segments: to what degree is phonological ambiguity accounted for by phonetic principles, and what is better accounted for at a different level of analysis?

My current focus is on the class of voiced, non-strident fricatives (what I call the voiced spirants) since, despite their traditional classification as fricatives, they often pattern with sonorants, and at times pattern with both obstruents and fricatives within a single language (e.g., Russian [v]). Though the phonetic character of such segments clearly plays a role in licensing such phonological patterning, recent phonetic investigations I've carried out indicate that the patterning is not reducible to phonetic principles alone.

My committee comprises [Draga Zec] (chair), [Abby Cohn], and [Mats Rooth].


Bjorndahl, C. (2015). "The Phonetics and phonology of segment classification: A case study of /v/" In The Segment in Phonology and Phonetics, Cairns, C. and Raimy, E. (Eds.)

Bjorndahl, C. (2013). "Phonetic properties of [v] in Russian, Serbian and Greek" Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics 133 (3607) [paper]

Tilsen, S., Zec, D., Bjorndahl, C., Butler, B., L'Esperance, M., Fisher, A., Heimisdottir, L., Renwick, M., and Sanker, C. (2012). A Cross-linguistic Investigation of Articulatory Coordination in Word-initial Consonant Clusters. Cornell Working Papers in Phonetics and Phonology 51-81. [pdf]

Bjorndahl, C. and Karshon, Y. (2010) ``Revisiting Tietze-Nakajima: local and global convexity for maps'' Canadian Journal of Mathematics 62 (5), 975-993. [pdf on]

Presentations and Posters

Bjorndahl, C. (invited) "Peering into the Obstruent-Sonorant Divide: The view from /v/''. North American Phonology Conference , May 4, 2018, Montreal, Canada [slides]

Bjorndahl, C. “The Typology of Voiced Spirants and the Emergence of [sonorant]". Manchester Phonology Meeting, May 28, 2016, Manchester, UK.

Bjorndahl, C. "Ambiguity at the Interface: Asymmetries in Voicing Assimilation and the Case of Russian /v/". the Case of Russian /v/”. , October 23, 2015, Pittsburgh, PA. [slides]

Bjorndahl, C. "Intermediacy, Ambiguity and Categorization at the Phonetics-Phonology Interface". PAL Talk (CMU Psychology Department Brown Bag), March 23, 2015, Pittsburgh, PA. [slides]
Note: This talk was intended for a mixed audience in which not everyone had familiarity with foundational principles in phonetics/phonology.

Bjorndahl, C. "Triggers and targets in voicing assimilation: The inevitability of Russian /v/". Montreal-Ottawa-Laval-Toronto Phonology and Phonetics Conference (MOLT 2015), March 13-15, 2015, Toronto, Canada. [handout]

Bjorndahl, C. "The cross-linguistic phonological and phonetic identity of /v/". 12th Old World Conference in Phonology (OCP 12), January 28-30, 2015, Barcelona, Spain. [slides]

Bjorndahl, C. "The phonetic properties of [v] in Russian, Serbian and Greek" 21st International Congress on Acoustics 2013 (ICA 2013) June 2-7, 2013, Montreal, Canada. [poster]

Bjorndahl, C. "The Phonology and Phonetics of Ambiguity: A Case Study of /v/". The 13th Conference on Laboratory Phonology (LabPhon 13), July 27-29, 2012, Stuttgart, Germany. [poster]


Carnegie Mellon University: Current teaching

PHI 80288 Intonation: Transcription and Analysis, Spring 2018

Past teaching

Carnegie Mellon University
Cornell University
University of Toronto

Scholarships and Awards

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, 2011-2012 ($20,000)

Sage Fellowship, Cornell University (2 years funding and stipend)

About Me

"It was in that room too that I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything, I hoped; learning, I hoped; and I would read so that I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to do it. Going down the stairs when I had worked well, and that needed luck as well as discipline, was a wonderful feeling and I was free then to walk anywhere in Paris." ~Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

When I'm not linguisticating, I have the privilege and joy of experiencing the world through the eyes of my five year old son, Anagnostis, and my three year old daughter, Athena. My husband Adam is a mathematician, so we named our dog Tarski, after the logician. I cook a lot, knit a lot and try to read non-linguistics related material as often as possible, and sometimes I even manage to read things that aren’t politics.