Human Interaction and the
Evolution of Spoken Accent

ERC Advanced Grant no. 742289 (2017-2022)

If a group of people were stranded on a desert island with limited contact to outside communities for a period of time, then the group would develop its own characteristic way of speaking or spoken accent. A lack of suitable data as input to an evolutionary computational model has meant that we have but a poor understanding of how spoken accent emerges out of human interaction. Yet a breakthrough in this area is critical for explaining the various forces – including contact between individuals through increased migration – that shape spoken accent development ultimately leading to language diversification and change. The project remedies this deficiency by developing a model of how random, local interactions between individuals leading to group-specific spoken accents can push the sound patterns of languages between stable and changing states. The methodological innovation is that the model's predictions of how spoken accent evolves will be constrained by longitudinal observations about how it actually develops within a group of speakers over time. We seek to generalise from diverse types of data: from children growing up in remote rural communities as opposed to high-contact urban settings; from languages that differ markedly in their sound structure; and from groups of adults isolated together for several months during an Antarctic winter. The project's scientific impact is on developing a computational framework for unifying historical sound change with the cognitive mechanisms by which speech is communicated and adapted to different social settings. The further impact is on understanding how migration and exposure to other accents change the sounds of language. The long-term significance of the project is to build a computationally predictive model of the way that microscopic idiosyncrasies in how humans process speech in everyday conversations accumulate into group-level macroscopic spoken accent change leading to language diversification.

PEOPLE

Our team is composed of people coming from diverse fields of specialties:

Jonathan Harrington


Jonathan Harrington, Prof.

Laboratory phonology, sound change, development of speech databases

Phil Hoole


Philip Hoole, Prof.

Articulation, nasalisation

Conceição da Cunha-Gergel


Conceição da Cunha-Gergel

Speech production, nasals, sound change, Portuguese

Michele Gubian


Michele Gubian

Data science, statistics, functional data analysis, agent-based modelling

Felicitas Kleber


Felicitas Kleber

Sound change, dialectology, language acquisition

Lia Saki Bučar Shigemori


Lia Saki Bučar Shigemori

Johanna Cronenberg


Johanna Cronenberg

Sound change, agent-based modelling

Rosa Franzke


Rosa Franzke

Sound change, gender-specific acoustics

Katrin Wolfswinkler


Katrin Wolfswinkler

Sound change, language acquisition, articulation

Enkeleida Kapia


Enkeleida Kapia

Sound change, Albanian, prosody

Christopher Carignan


Christopher Carignan

Nasalisation, articulation, sound change

Stefano Corretta


Stefano Coretta

Speech production, sound change, statistics, computational modelling

Ulrich Reubold


Ulrich Reubold

Laboratory phonology, speech production and perception, sound change

Johanna Cronenberg
Rosa Franzke
Mona Franke
Pia Greca
Meryem Güvende
Mariam Hemmer
Samantha Krzyzanowski
Lea Maier-Brusendorff
Arta Mazreku
Franziska Muck
Ananda-Alice Nefzger
Anna Ratzinger
Vanessa Reichel
Anna Richter
Johanna Schirmer
Julia Schmid
Anna Staudenmeir
Katharina Lena Thon

PUBLICATIONS

El Zarka, D., Kelterer, A., Gubian, M., and Schuppler, B. (under review). Prosodic configurations and information structure in Egyptian Arabic: speaker variability, gradience and emergent structure. Journal of Phonetics.

Riverin-Coutlée, J., Kapia, E., Cunha, C., and Harrington, J. (under review). Vowels in urban and rural Albania: The case of the Southern Gheg dialect.

Gubian, M., Cronenberg, J., and Harrington, J. (under review). Phonetic and Phonological Sound Changes in an Agent-Based Model. Speech Communication.

Coretta, S., Riverin-Coutlée, J., Kapia, E., and Nichols, S. (2022). Northern Tosk Albanian. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, pp. 1-23.

Riverin-Coutlée, J., and Harrington, J. (2022). Phonetic change over the career: A case study. Linguistics Vanguard, pp. 1-12.

Riverin-Coutlée, J., Roy, J.-P., and Gubian, M. (2022). Using Mahalanobis distances to investigate second dialect acquisition: A study on Quebec French. Language and Speech.

Carignan, C., Coretta, S., Frahm, J., Harrington, J., Hoole, P., Joseph, A., Kunay, E., and Voit, D. (2021). Planting the seed for sound change: Evidence from real-time MRI of velum kinematics in German. Language, 97 (2), pp. 333-364.

Wolfswinkler, K., and Harrington, J. (2021). The influence of Standard German on the vowels and diphthongs of West Central Bavarian. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, pp. 1-33.

Carignan, C., Hoole, P., Kunay, E., Pouplier, M., Joseph, A., Voit, D., Frahm, J., and Harrington, J. (2020). Analyzing speech in both time and space: Generalized additive mixed models can uncover systematic patterns of variation in vocal tract shape in real-time MRI. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology, 11 (1): 2, pp. 1-26.

Cronenberg, J., Gubian, M., Harrington, J., and Ruch, H. (2020). A dynamic model of the change from pre- to post-aspiration in Andalusian Spanish. Journal of Phonetics, 83, pp. 101016.

Egurtzegi, A., and Carignan, C. (2020). An acoustic description of Mixean Basque. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147 (4), pp. 2791-2802.

Harrington, J., Gubian, M., Stevens, M., and Schiel, F. (2019). Phonetic change in an Antarctic winter. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 146, pp. 3327-3332.

Stevens, M., Harrington, J., and Schiel, F. (2019). Associating the origin and spread of sound change using agent-based modelling applied to /s/-retraction in English. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 4 (1): 8, pp. 1-30.

Carignan, C., (2018). Using ultrasound and nasalance to separate oral and nasal contribution to formant frequencies of nasalized vowels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 143 (5), pp. 2588-2601.

Carignan, C., (2018). Using naïve listener imitations of native speaker productions to investigate mechanisms of listener-based sound change. Laboratory Phonology, 9 (1): 18, pp. 1-31.

Harrington, J., Kleber, F., Reubold, U., Schiel, F., and Stevens, M. (2018). Linking cognitive and social aspects of sound change using agent-based modeling. Topics in Cognitive Science, 10 (4), pp. 1-21.

Harrington, J., and Reubold, U. (2021). Accent Reversion in Older Adults: Evidence from the Queen's Christmas Broadcasts. In K. V. Beaman and I. Buchstaller (eds.): Language Variation and Language Change Across the Lifespan: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives from Panel Studies. Routledge: New York, pp. 119-137.

Harrington, J., Kleber, F., Reubold, U., Schiel, F., and Stevens, M. (2019). The phonetic basis of the origin and spread of sound change. In W. Katz and P. Assmann (eds.): The Routledge Handbook of Phonetics. Routledge: Oxford, pp. 401-426.

Liao, S., Hoole, P., Cunha, C., Kunay, E., Cui, A., Bučar Shigemori, L. S., Kleber, F., Voit, D., Frahm, J., and Harrington, J. (2022). Nasal Coda Loss in the Chengdu Dialect of Mandarin: Evidence from RT-MRI. Proceedings of the 23rd Interspeech, Incheon, Korea.

Riverin-Coutlée, J., Cunha, C., Kapia, E., and Harrington, J. (2021). Dialect features in heterogeneous and homogeneous Gheg-speaking communities. Proceedings of the 22nd Interspeech, Brno, Czech Republic.

Kapia, E., Kleber, F., and Harrington, J. (2020). An Autosegmental-Metrical Analysis of Rising Contours in Standard Albanian. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody, Tokyo, Japan, pp. 171-175.

Carignan, C., Hoole, P., Kunay, E., Harrington, J., Joseph, A., and Fram, J. (2019). The phonetic basis of phonological vowel nasality: Evidence from real-time MRI velum movement in German. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, and P. Warren (eds.): Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 413-417.

Gubian, M., Harrington, J., Stevens, M., Schiel, F., and Warren, P. (2019). Tracking the New Zealand English NEAR/SQUARE merger using functional principal components analysis. Proceedings of the 20th Interspeech, Graz, Austria.

Kapia, E., and Brugos, A. (2019). Perception of prosodic correlates of Topic and Focus in Albanian. Satellite Workshop, Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Melbourne, Australia.

Kapia, E., Riverin-Coutlée J., Cunha, C., and Harrington, J. (2022): A longitudinal study of contrastive length in Albanian-speaking children. Poster, 47th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD), Boston, USA. [Abstract]

Wolfswinkler, K., and Bučar Shigemori, L. S. (2022): Production of vocalized laterals in West Central Bavarian – an articulatory analysis of primary school children. Poster, 8th International Conference on Speech Motor Control, Groningen, Netherlands.

Franzke, R., Bučar Shigemori, L. S., Hoole, P., and Harrington, J. (2022): The crooked relationship between tongue shift and F2 in /u/-/y/-transitions. Poster, 8th International Conference on Speech Motor Control, Groningen, Netherlands.

Bučar Shigemori, L. S., and Franzke, R. (2022): Coarticulatory effects on /u/ and /y/ in female and male speakers of German. Presentation, Ultrafest, Manchester, England.

Kapia, E., Riverin-Coutlée J., Cunha, C., and Harrington, J. (2022): Exploring the connection between schwa dropping and vowel lengthening in Albanian. Poster, LabPhon18, online. [Abstract]

Kapia, E., Riverin-Coutlée J., Cunha, C., and Harrington, J. (2022): Exploring developmental norms of vowel production in the Gheg dialect of Albanian. Presentation, Methods in Dialectology XVII, Mainz, Germany. [Abstract]

Kapia, E., Kleber, F., and Brugos, A. (2022): Discrete and continuous-valued prosodic cues to prominence perception in Albanian. Poster, 3rd International Conference on Prominence in Language, Cologne, Germany.

Egurtzegi, A., Cronenberg, J., Gubian, M., Harrington, J., and Ruch, H. (2022): La aspiración de /s/ en andaluz: el (largo) camino de la post-lexicalidad a la fonologización. Presentation, CILPR, San Cristóbal, Spain. [Abstract]

Egurtzegi, A., Cronenberg, J., Gubian, M., Harrington, J., and Ruch, H. (2022): From post-lexicality to phonologization: Andalusian /s/-aspiration at the word boundary. Poster, LabPhon 18, online. [Abstract]

Cronenberg, J., Klingler, N., Kleber, F., and Pucher, M. (2022). On the role of asymmetry in prosodic change of consonant duration: Results from an agent-based model with two German varieties. Presentation, Speech Prosody, Lisbon, Portugal. [Abstract]

Brugos, A., and Kapia, E. (2021). Prosodic and non-prosodic cues to prominence and boundaries: evidence from an RPT study in Albanian. Poster, 1st International Conference on Tone and Intonation, Sonderborg, Denmark.

Cronenberg, J., Hejná, M., and Jatteau, A. (2021). A dynamic analysis of the sound change towards more pre-aspiration in Aberystwyth English. Presentation, 4th Phonetics and Phonology in Europe (PaPE), Barcelona, Spain. [Abstract]

Franzke, R., Cunha C., Riverin-Coutlée, J., Kapia E., and Harrington, J. (2021). How revealing are vowels for the sex of children? A perception and production study. Poster, P&P17, Frankfurt, Germany. [Abstract]

Kapia, E. (2021). Metoda në studimet dialektologjike: të dhëna të reja sociolinguistike nga Atlasi i Sintaksës Dialektore. Presentation, Kuvendi Ndërkombëtar i Studimeve Albanologjike, Tiranë, Shqipëri.

Nichols, S., Riverin-Coutlée, J., Coretta, S., and Kapia, E. (2021). On the acoustics and articulation of the affricates of Northern Tosk Albanian. Presentation, Annual Meeting of the LAGB, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK. [Abstract]

Nichols, S., Kapia, E., Riverin-Coutlée, J., and Coretta, S. (2021). Towards a description of the rhotic sounds of Northern Tosk Albanian. Presentation, 7th edition of R-atics, Lausanne, Switzerland. [Abstract]

Riverin-Coutlée, J., Cunha, C., Kapia, E., and Harrington, J. (2021). Dialect in the City: Asymmetrical retention of traditional features of Gheg Albanian. Poster, 4th Phonetics and Phonology in Europe (PaPE), Barcelona, Spain. [Abstract]

Wolfswinkler, K., Bučar Shigemori, L. S., and Harrington, J. (2021). Production of vocalized laterals in West Central Bavarian – an acoustic and articulatory analysis. Invited talk, DAGA2021, Vienna, Austria. [Abstract]

Harrington, J., Cronenberg, J., Greca, P., and Gubian, M. (2020). The representation of time in modelling of sound change. Keynote, 11th Tutorial and Research Workshop on Experimental Linguistics (ExLing), online. [Abstract]

Bučar Shigemori, L. S., Hoole, P., Wolfswinkler, K., and Harrington, J. (2020). Rounded palatal vowels as a model for sound-change processes in dialect-speaking children. Poster, Ultrafest, Indiana, USA. [Abstract]

Cunha, C., Riverin-Coutlée, J., Kapia, E., and Harrington, J. (2020). Is Albanian losing its vowel length contrast? Evidence from children and adults. Presentation, P&P16, Trier, Germany. [Abstract]

Kapia, E., Riverin-Coutlée, J., Cunha, C., and Harrington, J. (2020). Acquisition of morphologically and phonologically conditioned vowel length in Albanian. Presentation, 45th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD), Boston, USA. [Abstract]

Wolfswinkler, K., and Harrington, J. (2020). Quality and quantity in the West-Central-Bavarian dialect – a comparison between children and adults. Poster, LabPhon17, Vancouver, Canada. [Abstract]

Cronenberg, J. (2019). Modelling an ongoing sound change in the East Franconian dialect by means of an agent-based model. Presentation, P&P15, Düsseldorf, Germany. [Abstract]

Franzke, R., Wolfswinkler, K., and Harrington, J. (2019). Gender-based studies on the spoken language of children. Poster, P&P15, Düsseldorf, Germany. [Abstract]

Harrington, J. (2019). Empirical analyses of speech. Keynote talk, 10th Tutorial and Research Workshop on Experimental Linguistics (ExLing), Lisbon, Portugal. [Abstract]

Harrington, J., Cronenberg, J., and Gubian, M. (2019). Quantifying sound change from speech dynamics. Keynote talk, 2019 triannual conference on speech research, Zagreb, Croatia. [Abstract]

Wolfswinkler, K. (2019). Characteristics of the West-Central-Bavarian vowel system – a comparison between adults and children. Poster, P&P15, Düsseldorf, Germany. [Abstract]

Wolfswinkler, K., and Harrington, J. (2019). Characteristics of the West-Central-Bavarian vowel system. Presentation, Workshop in Commemoration of Sylvia Moosmüller, Vienna, Austria. [Abstract]

Wolfswinkler, K. (2017). The influence of interaction and immigration on the evolution of spoken accent. Presentation, JuPiD satellite Workshop at P&P13, Berlin, Germany. [Abstract]

DATA

All data connected to this ERC project will be made accessible to researchers. We have collected large data bases of several languages that have been thoroughly transcribed and analysed. Links will soon be provided here.

PRESS

Research from this ERC project has been featured in podcasts, articles, and videos:

FUNDING

This research is funded by European Research Council Grant no. 742289:
Human interaction and the evolution of spoken accent (2017-2022)
Awarded to Prof. Jonathan Harrington

CONTACT

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing
Schellingstr. 3 (VG, 2. OG)
D-80799 Munich

+49 (0) 89 / 2180 2758

sekretariat@phonetik.uni-muenchen.de

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