It is a well-known fact that there is an enormous amount of variation in how a language is pronounced. This variation is complex and multi-dimensional, and can be both linguistic and non-linguistic. The numerous types of variation in speech, such as regional, social, sex, age, and speaking style are difficult to investigate systematically, as it requires large sets of data. By recycling data from other studies and projects, and by focussing on a few specific research questions concerning  temporal variation, we want to increase our knowledge of variation in speech, especially of timing and of crossmodal temporal coordination. Most of the studies in this project relate to the CCL core theme The temporal coordination of speech, gaze and gestures plays an important role for language comprehension and interpersonal communication.

The main objective of the project is to examine the temporal aspects of speech using a phonetic as well as a multi-disciplinary approach. By running a number of studies related to existing projects within or associated to CCL, by sharing data and methods, our aim is to increase our knowledge about the temporal variation in speech. The following studies are currently starting or in progress:

  • Prosody in second language acquisition: Will pronunciation training using phonetic tools for a short period of time (7 weeks) improve the pronunciation (intonation) of the target second language for a test group of high school students compared to a control group that will not receive the extra training? If so, in what way and to what extent? What would be the most important components in a special easy to use training program or tool that can be used in high schools to improve the pronunciation in second language learning?
  • Temporal coordination in crossmodal production: This project/study aims to investigate the fine-grained temporal coordination between speech, manual gestures and gaze in language production in order to improve our understanding of how crossmodal information coordination is achieved, how it develops, and, ultimately, its role in face-to-face interaction.
  • Timing in regional variation: This set of studies uses the materials from other existing projects, namely the external projects VOKART, ESST and FuPro to study timing in Swedish dialects. How does the prosody of Estonian Swedish compare to other Swedish dialects? What are the articulatory and acoustic timing differences of vowels (e.g. duration and diphthongisation) in different regional varieties of Swedish? What are the temporal differences between East Middle and South Swedish tonal prosody?
  • Temporal aspects of animal vocalisations and human–animal communication: In this study we look at the temporal aspects of cat vocalisations (duration, repetition frequency, quantity in complex vocalisation types) and human–animal communication (e.g. articulatory and acoustic differences between human-directed and pet-directed speech).

We will address the following specific questions:

  • Will pronunciation training using visual cues (intonation contours) improve pronunciation when learning a second language (in Swedish high schools)?
  • What is the temporal relationship between acoustic and articulatory speech gestures and hand gestures?
  • What are the differences in prosodic timing and vowel dynamics in regional varieties of Swedish?
  • How is timing used in animal and human-animal communication?

Project members: Susanne Schötz, Johan Frid

Publications:

Schötz, S., Frid, J., Gustafsson, L & Löfqvist, A. 2013. Functional Data Analysis of Tongue Articulation in Palatal Vowels: Gothenburg and Malmöhus Swedish /i:, y:, ʉ:/. Proceedings of Interspeech 2013.

Schötz, S., Frid, J., Gustafsson, L & Löfqvist, A. 2013. Functional data analysis of tongue articulation in Gothenburg and Malmöhus Swedish /i:, y:, ʉ:/. Proceedings of Fonetik 2013, 14–16 June 2013, Linköping University, Sweden. pp 69–72.

Schötz, S. 2012. A phonetic pilot study of vocalisations in three cats. Proceedings of Fonetik 2012, Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg. pp 45-48.

Schötz, S. and Asu, E L. 2013. An acoustic study of accentuation in Estonian Swedish compounds. In Asu and Lippus (Eds.) Nordic Prosody: Proceedings of the XIth Conference, Tartu 2012. 343–352. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main..