Many of my publications are available on my ResearchGate page.

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”).

Native listeners’ perception of prosody produced by non-native speakers of English

This study (done in collaboration with Paul Edmunds) investigates how native American English listeners perceive two aspects of prosody, phrasal boundaries and prominence, in the speech of native and L2 speakers of English. The L2 speakers, whose native language was Latin American Spanish, were advanced students at CELAC, the University of New Mexico’s center for teaching English to international students.

We used Rapid Prosody Transcription (RPT) to investigate listeners’ perceptions of the prosody produced by the native and non-native speakers as they read aloud. RPT offers a language-independent tool to access listeners’ holistic understanding of prosody. Listeners hear an audio recording of speech while following along on an orthographic, unpunctuated transcript of the recording. They indicate their perception of phrasal boundaries or prominent words by marking them on the transcript in real time. Compared to acoustic analysis, studying listener reactions provides more insight into what aspects of non-native prosody are most salient. This may be useful in guiding learners to the most effective ways to improve their prosody. Also, listeners respond to the signal as a whole, while measurement of individual acoustic parameters may fail to capture the relevant dimensions.

This research was presented at Interspeech 2013 in Lyon, France; you can see the paper here.

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.