My research investigates systematic variation in the sound properties of speech and the perceptual and communicative consequences of such variation. I am particularly interested in ways in which that variation is constrained or conditioned by communicative or representational factors.
Some general areas of interest include:
(1) Previous work
(mine and others') investigates the production of
neighborhood-conditioned phonetic variation: we know that English
speakers produce words from dense phonological neighborhoods with
increased hyperarticulation and coarticulation. Currently, in work with
Luciana Marques and Will Styler (CU PhD students), we are investigating
neighborhood effects in French, looking at coarticulatory nasality as
well as contrastive vowel nasality. We hope to extend our work to
Brazilian Portuguese soon.
We are also
perception of this neighborhood-conditioned phonetic variation. I am
interested in exploring whether the increased hyperarticulation and
coarticulation in high neighborhood density words are perceptually
beneficial (and potentially listener-directed), compensating for the
inherent difficulty of high ND words. In work with Luciana Marques and
Will Styler, we are currently looking at the role of degree of nasal
and hyperarticulation in the perception of high and low neighborhood
To support the perceptual work on nasality, I am working with Will
Styler to identify and manipulate acoustic cues to nasality.
Georgia Zellou (UC Davis), Armik Mirzayan (USD), and David Rood (CU), I
am working on
description of contrastive and coarticulatory nasality in Lakota, a
Siouan language spoken in the upper plains of the US. We are interested
in how these two roles for nasality interact in shaping the patterns
produced by native speakers.
(5) In work with
Georgia Zellou, we are extending our study of listener-directed speech
adjustments to a new category of listeners - infants - and to a new
measure of lexical difficulty - age of acquisition. We are
investigating the relationship between age of acquisition (or the age
at which a child is reported to learn a given word) and neighborhood
density (or the number of words phonological similar to a given word,
which correlates with processing ease) in conditioning adjustments in
hyperarticulation and coarticulation in infant-directed speech.