Research 2018-12-08T00:48:13+00:00

Research

Research at ALPS focuses on the variation of language sounds: their internal articulatory and acoustic characteristics, their distributional properties and how they are used to convey social information. Research in the lab covers a range of themes and methods in speech production and perception: social networks and sound variation, bilingual speech, articulation and perception of rhotics, consonant clusters, quantitative modelling of ultrasound tongue imaging data, laryngeal contrasts.

Current Projects

NEB – Networks, Exemplars and Bilinguals. The potential of quantitative social network analysis in sociophonetic research

Funded by: Free University of Bozen, Faculty of Education

Project duration: 2018 – 2020

NEB – Networks, Exemplars and Bilinguals. The potential of quantitative social network analysis in sociophonetic research is a project aimed at exploring how social interactions with other people influence our way of speaking. The focus of the project is concerned with one of the crucial questions in language sciences: how does social experience affect human speech communication? Speakers are constantly updating their sound system to make it more similar to the speech of the ambient community. Likewise, bilinguals experience pronunciation changes in both languages as a result of a differential use of the two languages.

The main aim of NEB is to study the effects of personal network structure on bilinguals’ linguistic behavior, focusing on how social experience counts as essential structuring force to phonological categories. In order to explore this issues, we will analyze spontaneous data coming from a sample of bilingual speakers from Bolzano

Speak Up! The effects of temperature and altitude on speech and articulation

Funded by: Free University of Bozen, Faculty of Education

Project duration: 2018 – 2020

Do people speak differently when it is cold or hot outside?

The aim of this project is to study the effectof environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, pressure, or oxygenlevel on speech.

Many aspects of speech are determined by physiological characteristics (e.g. size of vocal tract, age), but there are also situational factors, such as different kinds of stress (e.g. background noise, cognitive work load, emotion). One of the less studied factors that might induce stress and affect speech are environmental factors like temperature, humidity or atmospheric pressure. Some studies have looked at the effect of humidity and temperature on vocal fold activity in terms of phonation threshold pressure or phonatory effort which can be related to voice quality. However, less is known how these factors affect supraglottal articulation and general speech patterns. For example, cooling of muscles through exposure to cold air affects physical performance, particularly fast movements, which might consequently affect the ability to control lip, jaw or even tongue movement. Speakers might also adapt their articulation patterns to prevent too much cold or dry air to enter the vocal tract and affect the vocal folds. Although not much is known about the direct effect of environmental factors on speech, several studies have drawn connections between geographic or climatic factors and phonological inventories of languages based on typological information obtained in data bases, claiming that over a course of time some environments might be more likely to give rise to certain phonologic features.

The project will explore how speakers react to different environmental factors by analyzing acoustic and articulatory data and contribute to the existing  research on mechanisms responsible for language variation.

Past Projects