Catherine Lai

Catherine Lai I was a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. I successfully defended my dissertation in April 2012 and am now a post-doc research fellow at the Centre for Speech Technology Research at the University of Edinburgh, working on the InEvent project.

At Penn, I worked in the phonetics lab where I took advice from Jiahong Yuan and many other people. I'm interested in the phonetics-semantics-pragmatics interface, which really means that I am interested in speech prosody. I hope that looking at the interactions in these areas can provide some bridging between the symbolic and probabilistic aspects of language. More generally, I'm interested in how you can compute these sorts of things.

In the past, I have served on the Student Advisory Committee of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA-SAC). Recently, I helped organize a workshop on New Tools and Methods for Very-Large-Scale Phonetics. I have also served of the organizing committee of the 2010 Young Researcher's Roundtable on Spoken Dialogue Systems (YRRSDS).

Quite a while ago, I did a research masters at the University of Melbourne, Australia. I was part of the Language Technology Group and my advisor was Steven Bird. Back in the day, I researched querying and manipulating linguistically annotated data. (ie. trees).

Besides this, I am a strong supporter of the work of Amnesty International.

Research Interests

Prosodic meaning: prosody and dialogue structure, perception of speaker affect and attitude.
Dialogue models: formal frameworks, the semantics and pragmatics of discourse markers, gradability, modals and attitude.
Corpus phonetics: automated F0 analysis, rhythm and lexical tone, non-native prosody.

And here's my CV

Publications and Presentations

Catherine Lai. Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2012, Shanghai, China, May 2012.
[ paper ]

Catherine Lai. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, April 2012.
[ pdf (18 MB!) ] [ Abstract ]

Keelan Evanini, Catherine Lai and Klaus Zechner. Proceedings on Meetings on Acoustics. 2011.
[ paper ] [ poster ]

Catherine Lai, Keelan Evanini and Klaus Zechner. Presented at New Tools and Methods for Very-Large-Scale Phonetics, Philadelphia, January, 2011.
[ abstract ] [ poster ]

Catherine Lai. Accepted for the 85th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), Pittsburgh, January 6-9, 2011.
[ abstract ] The account of verum focus is fleshed out in my dissertation. Email me if you want further opinions on NPQs:)

Catherine Lai. Presented at NELS 41, Philadelphia, October 2010.
[ abstract ] [ poster ]

Catherine Lai. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2010, Makuhari, Japan, September 2010.
[ paper ] [ slides ]

Catherine Lai, Yanyan Sui and Jiahong Yuan. In Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2010, Chicago, USA, May 2010.
[ paper ]

Aviad Eilam and Catherine Lai. Presented at CONSOLE'09, Barcelona, Spain, Dec 2009.
[ slides ]

Catherine Lai. Proceedings of Interspeech'09, Brighton, UK, Sept 2009.
[ paper ] [ poster ]

Catherine Lai and Steven Bird. Journal of Logic, Language and Information, 19(1), pp 53-73, 2010.

Catherine Lai. Presented at at Psychocomputational Models of Human Language Acquisition (Workshop at Cog Sci 2008), Washington D.C, July 2008.
[ slides ] The working paper is below but needs some fixes.

Catherine Lai. In Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2008, Campinas, Brazil, May 2008.
[ paper ] [ slides ] NB: I updated the analysis for this quite a lot for the dissertation. I'd suggest you look at that if you are interested in this topic.

Catherine Lai, Kyle Gorman, Jiahong Yuan, Mark Liberman. In Proceedings of Interspeech'07, Antwerp, Belgium, August 2007
[ paper ] [ poster ] [ ISCA ]

Catherine Lai and Steven Bird. Proceedings of the 19th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation (PACLIC). pp 1-12, Taipei, Taiwan. Taipei: Academia Sinica. December 2005.
[ eprint ]

Catherine Lai. MSc (Research) Thesis, Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering, University of Melbourne, 2005
[ ps ] [ pdf ] [ slides ]

Catherine Lai and Steven Bird. Proceedings of the Australasian Language Technology Workshop, December 2004
(If you are interested in this, you are better off looking at my masters thesis...)

Working Papers and Other Business

Dialogue with attitude: The contribution of cue words and prosodic meaning in conversational speech
Catherine Lai. April 2011.
[ slides ]
Some slides about the cue word part of my dissertation.

Bayesian Iterated Learning and Portuguese Clitics
Catherine Lai. Paper for Ling-575 Mental Lexicon, University of Pennsylvania, 2007
[ paper ]


LING 001: Introduction to Linguistics [TA: Spring 2008 (Embick/Yang)]
LING 106: Introduction to formal linguistics [TA: Fall 2007 (Nathan)]
LING 521: Phonetics Practicum [TA: Spring 2007 (Yuan)]
LING 520: Introduction to Phonetics [TA: Fall 2006 (Yuan)]

I've also taught recitations and labs at the University of Melbourne, including Introduction to Programming, and Logic and Computation.

email: <laic at babel ling upenn edu>

"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government"
-- Dennis (Monty Python's Holy Grail)