Talk – Sayuri Hayakawa

Dr. Sayuri Hayakawa from the CSD department will be presenting next week (2/28) on “Morality & Mental Imagery in a Foreign Language.”

Morality & Mental Imagery in a Foreign Language

Using a foreign language has been shown to change our choices. It can affect both risk preferences and risk perception, information processing, and perhaps most strikingly, our moral judgments and decisions. While an increasing number of foreign language effects have been found, little is understood about the underlying processes. I will argue that one such process may involve a dampening of the emotional “System 1” rather than an increase in the deliberative “System 2”. Furthermore, I will present data suggesting that this reduction may, in part, be driven by a reduction in the vividness of mental imagery when utilizing a foreign language. Because mental imagery is constructed from memories, which have been shown to be language-dependent, processing a scene in a less familiar language may result in muted visualization. This, in turn, has consequences for decision making.

Talk – Jennifer Cole

Dr. Jennifer Cole (Northwestern, Linguistics) will be giving a talk next Wednesday (2/21) on “Quantifying Phonetic Variation.” The abstract is below. Our meeting will take place at our usual time and place: Wednesday, 4-5pm in Cresap 101. Hope to see you there!

Speech is known to be highly variable across speakers and situations, and listeners pay attention to some of this phonetic detail for the rich contextual information it carries. In this talk I ask how much variability is present in speech, and whether some components of speech are more or less susceptible to variation. I present an approach to quantifying phonetic variation developed in collaboration with Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (MIT), which approaches the question from the dual perspectives of perception and production. We analyze serial imitations of a heard utterance, where the linguistic object to be produced is fixed syntactically, lexically and prosodically, and employ a novel method for quantifying phonetic variation using acoustic landmarks (Stevens 2002) as correlates of phonologically-contrastive manner features. Imitated utterances produced by ten native speakers of American English resulted in 3500+ consonant and vowel landmarks (LMs), which were labelled and compared both to the lexically-specified LMs, and to the LMs produced in the stimulus. Our findings demonstrate and quantify systematicity in phonetic variation as measured in terms of LMs. They also reveal that speakers exercise choice in phonetic implementation, deviating both from lexical targets and from the phonetic detail of the heard stimulus. These results hold promise for the use of imitated speech in the study of phonetic variation, and for the use of LMs (and by extension other feature cues) as a phonologically grounded measure of variation in speech production.

Talk – Allison Hilger

Allison Hilger (CSD) will give a talk next week, Wednesday Feb. 7, titled “Manipulating prosody: speech-acoustic responses to vocal feedback perturbations prior to phrasal prominence.” Details of her talk are below.

Abstract: Prosody, the use of acoustic features to convey linguistic and affective meaning through intonation and phrasing, has been viewed as both a set of discrete events and as a continuous, composite unit of targets and transitions. The latter is the approach by the Autosegmental-Metrical (AM) theory in which prosody is planned at the phrase-level in order to achieve specific intonation targets. According to the DIVA model, prosody utilizes an integrated feedforward and feedback control system. However, the level at which the planning of intonation units are stored as motor plans is not known. In this study, we tested the AM theory of prosody by perturbing pitch during an early transitional word in an intonation phrase to measure how syllables of phrasal prominence are affected. In preliminary analysis, speakers compensated for the perturbation but still produced the targeted low tone in the intonation contour using relative pitch levels. Additionally, speakers exaggerated intensity on the prominent syllable in order to fully achieve the intonation target following the disruption. These results support phrase-level planning of intonation according to the AM theory. However, continued analyses of other acoustic features and additional speakers will help us understand the significance of these findings.

Talk – Timo Roettger

Timo Roettger, a postdoc in the Linguistics department, will be presenting next week, Jan. 31st at Phonatics. The title and abstract of his talk are below.

Title: The tune drives the text – the role of intonation in linguistic change

Abstract: Segmental and prosodic aspects of speech are often assumed to be independent of each other. For example, the intonation contour of a phrase is thought to be independent of the words that bear it. However, detaching segmental from suprasegmental aspects of speech has led us to largely ignore the intricate interactions between these levels which could potentially inform models of linguistic change. Particularly neglected are functional conflicts in the expression of lexical and intonational meaning, such as conflicts created by the requirement to realise meaningful pitch movements on segments that do not lend themselves to a clear manifestation of these pitch movements. This talk aims at bridging this gap by arguing that intonation poses functional pressure on its segmental environment favouring certain segmental strings over others. It will be argued that the dynamic negotiation between intonation and the segmental string has important implications for some linguistics changes. Although this talk will focus on phonotactic changes, most notably the insertion of vowels, it will be speculated that other aspects of linguistic structure are also impacted by the functional pressure to realise communicatively relevant tonal movements.

LSA Practice Talks – Annette D’Onofrio and Eleanor Chodroff

Annette D’Onofrio and Eleanor Chodroff will be giving LSA practice talks at our next Phonatics meeting, Wednesday Dec. 13th. Each talk will be around 20 minutes long.

Annette D’Onofrio: Complicating categories: Personae mediate racialized expectations of non-native speech. [abstract]

Eleanor Chodroff, Alessandra Golden, and Colin Wilson: Covariation of voice onset time: a universal aspect of phonetic realization. [abstract]

Talk – Suyeon Im

Phonatics will be meeting next week, November 15th. Our speaker will be Suyeon Im from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The title and abstract for her talk can be found below:

Evaluating the domain of f0 encoding with imitated speech

What is the appropriate segmentation of a phrasal f0 contour that corresponds to the domain in which intonational features are cognitively encoded? We investigate this question for American English by modeling f0 contour similarity between imitated sentences and their stimuli over domains of varying size and prosodic status, from the syllable to the prosodic phrase. Results show the greatest similarity between imitated and stimulus f0 contours for the contour modeled holistically in the domain of the entire intermediate phrase. These findings are contrary to the predictions of the compositional AM model, and are also surprising in light of claims that the prenuclear region does not encode semantic/pragmatic meaning.

Talk – Teresa Pratt

Phonatics will be meeting next week, November 1st. Our speaker will be Teresa Pratt from Stanford University. The title and abstract for her talk can be found below:

Embodying toughness: LOT-raising, /l/-velarization, and retracted articulatory setting

Recent work on sociolinguistic style has considered the indexical potential of embodied behaviors related to speech, e.g. facial expression and jaw setting. In this paper I examine two sociophonetic variables to explore the link between articulatory setting and stylistic practice. Drawing on a year-long ethnography at a public arts high school in the San Francisco Bay Area, I show that one group of students within the school use raised LOT and velarized /l/ at higher rates than their peers. This group of students is part of the ‘technical theater’ track, which is distinct from the others in that students engage in manual labor and using professional-grade tools to construct sets for school productions and events. These students self-describe and are described by peers as “rowdy” “assholes” who wear black clothes and work boots, carry knives, and are “handy” by virtue of “always building stuff.” Notably, both of the variants used by these students—raised LOT and velarized /l/—are characterized by the backing and raising of the tongue root. I suggest that tech students rely more generally on a retracted articulatory setting, and that this articulatory setting is indexical of the salient stylistic characteristic of the individuals using it: toughness. By virtue of the stylistic co-occurrence of students’ linguistic, embodied, sartorial, and social practices, these retracted variants and corresponding articulatory setting can come to index a holistic style of embodied toughness.

Talk – Ann Bradlow

Phonatics will be meeting next week, Wednesday Oct. 25th, from 4-5pm in Cresap 101. Ann Bradlow, Professor of Linguistics here at Northwestern, will be giving a practice talk for a special session at the 2017 ASHA Annual Convention. The title, abstract, and an outline of the ASHA special session are provided below.

High variability speech training in and out of the lab

Ann Bradlow
Department of Linguistics

What is the most effective way to improve perception and production of novel speech sounds?  In this presentation, I will review the principle behind a particularly effective approach to novel speech sound learning, namely the high variability training approach.  I will then present data from two lines of research that have explored this training principle in laboratory-based studies: (1) acquisition of the English /r/-/l/ contrast by Japanese listeners, and (2) perceptual adaptation to foreign-accented English by native speakers of American English.  Translation of this basic research to clinics, classrooms, and other real-world settings is the next frontier for this research agenda.

This is a practice talk for a special session at the 2017 ASHA Annual Convention on Nov 9th.
Topic Area: Cultural and Linguistic Issues
Session Title: High Variability Speech Training & Practical Aspects of Accent Modification
Session Format: Short Course
Time-Ordered Agenda:

  1. Introduction and overview 5 min Lisa Lasalle
  2. High variability speech training in and out of the lab, 50 mins. Ann Bradlow
  3. Management of speech sound disorders vs. providing accent modificatioon services, 35 mins. Amber Franklin
  4. Measuring comprehensibility, degree of accentedness, and baseline intelligibility. 35 mins Amee Shah
  5. Use of visual and kinesthetic methods to improve sound differentiation 35 mins Jenna Luque
  6. Question and Answer 20 mins – Panel


Welcome to the new website for Phonatics! We are a discussion group on sound structure and processing at Northwestern University. Read more about us here and see a list of our current members here. On this site, you’ll be able to find up-to-date information about our meetings and schedule. If you have any questions or are interested in presenting at a meeting, please feel free to contact Eleanor Chodroff at firstName dot lastName at northwestern dot edu. If you would like to receive updates about our group, please subscribe to the mailing list here. Looking forward to the new year!