Emmylogo_enGestural Cohesion and Timing in Speech Production

Emmy Noether Research Group

funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


Marianne Pouplier (Principal Investigator), Stefania Marin

Project summary

How to negotiate the tension between the cognitive and physical properties of speech has been a central issue in linguistics for many decades and much recent influential research is built on the insight that phonology and phonetics inform each other (e.g., Boersma 1998; Pierrehumbert 2000; Prince & Smolensky 2004). The framework of articulatory phonology has also gained recognition as a model of grammar which argues that the spatiotemporal coordination of speech events is an integral part of phonological representation. This model claims that important insights into the nature of linguistic units and the speech production process can be gained under the assumption that these are grounded in the coordination of linguistically significant vocal tract events, so-called gestures (Browman & Goldstein 1990; Fowler et al. 1980). This theoretical framework explicitly models the temporal coordination of speech events and thus allows us to formulate and empirically test hypotheses about the relation of the observable, physical principles of speech to cognitive representations.

The current project investigates speech errors and the organization of sounds into syllables, aiming for a new understanding of the relation between abstract phonological planning and the physical implementation of speech. The questions addressed here speak to the much debated issue whether regularities occurring when individual sounds combine, erroneously in slips of the tongue and non-errorfully in syllabic organization, can adequately be captured as manipulation of linear sequences of symbolic units. Doubt has been cast on the long-standing assumption of symbolic segments particularly through the increasing availability of articulatory records of speech. These suggest for instance that speech errors attributed to categorical segmental replacements may in fact be gradient intrusions of articulatory gestures. Traditionally it has been assumed that the units of speech production are symbolic segments consisting of atemporal phonological feature bundles which are mapped onto dynamic specifications only when the encoded phonological structure is about to be uttered. Evidence for this view has come, among others, from the combinatorial properties of segments: The errorful combination of sounds in speech errors has long been understood to be a serial misordering in a linear string of symbolic segments. Also the combination of sounds into onset, nucleus and coda has traditionally been described on the basis of a linear string of segments, governed by the syllable hierarchy, although the empirical status of the segment has never been uncontroversial. The current project uses speech errors and syllabic organization to test the hypothesis that, at least in some cases, these phenomena may reflect complex molecular constellations comprised of articulatory gestures, and do not necessarily implicate abstract symbolic structures.

Start date: May 2007


Pouplier, M. & Waltl, S. (2008). Articulatory timing of coproduced gestures and its implications for models of speech production. Proceedings of the 8th International Seminar of Speech Production, Strasbourg.

Marin, S. & Pouplier, M. (2008). Organization of Complex Onsets and Codas in American English: Evidence for a Competitive Coupling Model. Proceedings of the 8th International Seminar of Speech Production, Strasbourg.

Kochetov, A. & Pouplier, M. (2008) Phonetic variability and grammatical knowledge. An articulatory study of Korean place assimilation. Phonology 25(3),

Pouplier, M. & Goldstein, L. Intention in Articulation (2010). Articulatory timing of coproduced gestures and its implications for models of speech production. Language and Cognitive Processes, 25(5), 616-649.

Marin, S., Pouplier, M. & Harrington J. (2010). Acoustic consequences of articulatory variability during productions of /t/ and /k/ and its implications for speech error research. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 127(1), 445-461.

Scobbie, J. & Pouplier, M. (2010). Conditioning factors in external sandhi: an EPG study of vocalisation and retraction of word-final English /l/. Journal of Phonetics, 38(2), 240-259.

Iskarous, K., Pouplier, M., Marin, S. & Harrington, J. (2010). The interaction between prosodic boundaries and accent in the production of sibilants. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Speech Prosody, Chicago, 100197:1-4.

Marin, S. & Pouplier, M. (2010). Temporal organization of complex onsets and codas in American English: Testing the predictions of a gestural coupling model. Motor Control 14(3), 380-407.

Pouplier, M. (2011) The atoms of phonological representations. Companion to Phonology. Eds. Marc van Oostendorp, Keren Rice, Beth Hume, Colin Ewen.

Pouplier, M., Hoole, Ph. & Scobbie, J. (2011): Investigating the asymmetry of English sibilant assimilation: acoustic and EPG data. Journal of Laboratory Phonology 2(1), 1-33.

Pouplier, M. & Š. Beňuš (2011). On the phonetic status of syllabic consonants: Evidence from Slovak. Journal of Laboratory Phonology 2(2), 1-35.

Marin, S. (2011). Organization of complex onsets in Romanian. In: Y. Laprie & I. Steiner (Eds.). Proceedings of the 9th International Seminar on Speech Production, Montreal, June 20-23, 2011, 179-186.

Beňuš, Š. & Pouplier, M. (2011). Jaw movement in vowels and liquids forming the syllable nucleus. Proceedings of Interspeech 2011

Hoole, Ph., Kühnert, B. & Pouplier, M. (2012). System-related variation in speech production. Handbook of Laboratory Phonology. Ed.s Marie Huffman, Cécile Fougeron, Abigail Cohn. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 115-130.

Marin, S. & L. Goldstein. (2012). A gestural model of the temporal organization of vowel clusters. Proceedings of the Consonant Clusters and Structural Complexity Workshop, Munich, July 31 - August 2, 2008.

Pouplier, M. (2012). The gestural approach to syllable structure: Universal, language-, and cluster-specific aspects. In Fuchs, Weihrich, Pape, Perrier (ed.s) Speech Planning and Dynamics. Peter Lang.

Pouplier, M. (2012) The gaits of speech: re-examining the role of articulatory effort in spoken language. In Maria-Josep Solé, Daniel Recasens (ed.s). The Initiation of Sound Change: Perception, Production, and Social Factors. John Benjamins.

Marin, S. (2012). Romanian ‘blended’ vowels: A production model of incomplete neutralization. Journal of Portuguese Linguistics, 11(2), 35-50.

Marin, S. & L. Goldstein (2012). A gestural model of the temporal organization of vowel clusters. In Ph. Hoole, M. Pouplier. L. Bombien, Ch. Mooshammer, B. Kühnert (Eds.), Consonant Clusters and Structural Complexity. Mouton de Gruyter (Interface Exploration Series), 177-204.

Philip Hoole, Lasse Bombien, Marianne Pouplier, Christine Mooshammer, Barbara Kühnert (Eds). Consonant Clusters and Structural Complexity. Mouton de Gruyter (Interface Exploration Series), 2012

Marin, S. (2013). The temporal organization of complex onsets and codas in Romanian: A gestural approach. Journal of Phonetics, 41, 211-227.

Hoole, P., Pouplier, M., Beňuš, Š. & Bombien, L. (2013). Articulatory coordination in obstruent-sonorant clusters and syllabic consonants: data and modelling. In L. Spreafico & A. Vietti (eds.), Proceedings of Ratics3, Bolzano University Press.