Speakers, Listeners, Languages: Patterns Of Variability And Contrast In Spoken Language Dynamics
In Kooperation mit Christopher Carignan (UCL London), Bronwen Evans (UCL London) und Eva Reinisch (Institut für Schallforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften)
AHRC-DFG, 2021 - 2024
The goal of our project is to shed new light on how the basic dynamics of speech production and perception are shaped by phonological contrast and may, at the same time, vary between individuals of the same language community in a systematic fashion. Gaining new insights into how the range of individual variation within a language relates to known patterns of variation between languages and how either one is shaped by phonological contrast is crucial to our knowledge about: (1) why and how languages differ from each other, (2) what aspects of language variation are universal to all human language users, (3) how sound systems evolve, and (4) the cognitive relationship between speech production and perception. There is, however, a dearth of cross-linguistic studies with a suitable number of participants such as to allow for generalizations about within- versus cross-language variation. Our UK-German research team, comprised of experts in speech production, perception, psycholinguistics, and language variation, will address these questions, looking at both production anda its online processing in perception. State-of-the-art methodologies will be used to obtain sufficiently large datasets which, combined with advanced statistical techniques, will enable us to study the forces that shape individual and cross-linguistic variation in speech production and perception in interaction with phonological contrast. We will exploit differences in the phonological structures of American English (AEnglish), French, and German to systematically vary nasality and lip rounding. We can thus gauge whether different types of contrast behave similarly within a language. The project's more general impact is to contribute to our emergent knowledge of the dynamics of the perception-production link both in individuals and at a language-specific level.