Description of the Research strand

Phonetic and phonological complexity : Description

Phonological and phonetic phenomena and units have to be considered as complex as they result from the interaction of completely independently motivated constraints (articulatory, perceptual and auditory constraints, linguistic and systemic constraints, etc.). The objectives of this strand are threefold:

  • to study phenomena belonging to phonetics, phonology and their interfaces in standard and non-standard speech (speech and voice disorders, L2 learners), in order to achieve a better understanding of the physical and structural properties of speech sounds ;
  • to develop an integrative approach by taking advantage of
    • a broad spectrum of complementary perspectives with specialists in different fields,
    • and new technological progress (databases, data-mining and new equipment for studying the speech organs) ;
  • to promote
    • interdisciplinary collaborations between linguists, medical doctors, speech therapists and language teachers,
    • and the development of applications for language learning and teaching (PPC4), and for assessment and remediation in clinical context (PPC3, PPC5). Two start-up companies are envisioned (see workpackage PPC10)

These objectives will be achieved within an innovative approach combining complementary perspectives and paradigms: experimental and evolutionary phonetics and phonology, corpus based approaches, clinical phonetics, language acquisition and learning, and language typology. 

Our research project will benefit from groundbreaking technological progress opening new perspectives. Due to increasingly sophisticated instruments being implemented in the LPP-Paris3 PEP2 physiological platform, simultaneous capturing of movements of all speech organs becomes more and more at reach, allowing for a more comprehensive picture of speech production and the implementation of phonological systems. Psycholinguistic experiments will test for the psychological reality of the linguistic constructs under study and their processing. In collaboration with Strand 3, evolutionary phonology, which unifies diachronic and synchronic perspectives, will rely on CRLAO and Lacito’s sizable databases for over 50 languages, and provide a valuable means to arrive at language-independent laws of phonological change. Clinical phonetics and language-learning studies (in either L1 or L2) will look at non-standard systems (impaired or in the process of being acquired, respectively). Finally, corpus-based approaches or speech mining will allow for both a quantitative and qualitative analysis of spoken data. The tremendous progress achieved these last decades in information technologies (including automatic speech and language processing) allows us to envision new tools to automatically explore large corpora. This program will partly rely on existing shared annotated corpora, partly on newly produced corpora and annotations in relation with strand 6.

Our project is also guided by our commitment to work in parallel on various populations and data types (normal and impaired speakers; native and non-native speakers; longitudinal, inter- and intra-speaker data, cross-language data, etc.). This combination of new experimental techniques with original speech material opens challenging research perspectives for the future and will contribute to shed light on a wide range of fundamental questions in phonetics and phonology. Innovative achievements are also expected for society at large and for more specific domains. Applied tools and resources will be designed for diagnosis and remediation in the clinical field, language teaching and pronunciation training in the education area, as well as for singing techniques in the arts domain.