Current research areas

Constituents and heads in prosody perception: A comparative study

This is an NSF-funded project in collaboration with Jennifer Cole and José Hualde of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

This project investigates the connection between two aspects of prosody, prominence and phrasing. Unlike English where these two aspects are assumed to be more or less independent, descriptions of French prosodic structure take for granted that they are closely related. However, this relation had not previously been verified experimentally with a substantial sample of naïve listeners.

This study showed that French listeners’ perceptions of prosody are at least broadly in accordance with descriptions in the literature. The results are also interestingly similar in some ways to those of an earlier experiment using similar methodology with American listeners. Further work is investigating acoustic and syntactic factors that may have contributed to the listeners' perceptions.

I have reported my earlier work on French using similar methodology at various conferences. A paper can be downloaded from the 3rd International Conference on Discourse – Prosody Interface (scroll down to “Oral Communications”).

Other research

Speaker accommodation

Speakers adapt to (perceived) characteristics of their listeners by modifying their use of language in various ways, including changes to phonetic properties of their speech. This type of speaker accommodation has been studied most extensively in speech directed to infants and in work on “clear speech” directed to hard-of-hearing listeners. My research looks at accommodation in the speech of native (L1) speakers who are addressing non-native (L2) listeners, which has been studied far less than the productions of L2 speakers to L1 listeners.

This topic is both theoretically interesting, as an explanation for phonetic variation, and relevant in practical settings, given the increasing usage of English as an international lingua franca.

Here is a paper from the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, August 2007.

Vowel devoicing, especially in French

Discussed in a paper (doi:10.1017/S095926950300111X) published in the Journal of French Language Studies and a presentation at the 10th Conference on Laboratory Phonology, Paris, June-July 2006.

Modeling durational patterns in connected discourse

Project funded by the National Science Foundation for the period May 2000 - April 2004.
For more information, click here.