Phonetics II

Mark Liberman

The goal of this course is to give you the concepts and skills that you need to do "corpus phonetics": that is, to use modern resources and methods to create and analyze very large collections of speech material efficiently.

SAS admitted no new grad students this year, and so there are no regular linguistics grad students enrolled. We'll take the opportunity to pursue a slightly different dimension of the core topic: data structures, algorithms, and interfaces for searching and analyzing phonetic datasets. This set of issues will be explored and exemplified in the context of the course's regular contents. Participants will include several researchers who have been working on such things.

The techniques of "corpus phonetics" apply in any area where the facts of speech production and perception are relevant. Phonetic facts may be related to levels of linguistic analysis from phonetics to pragmatics, and to basic or applied questions from many different fields -- theoretical linguistics, psychology, sociolinguistics, language teaching and learning, clinical diagnosis, speech technology, and even poetics and musicology. For some general discussion, see "Corpus Phonetics", Annual Review of Linguistics 2019; or these lecture notes on "The distribution of wanna contraction" from last spring's edition of LING620, which explored one aspect of an ad hoc corpus of 105,817 NPR podcasts, comprising more than 10,648 hours.

We will focus mainly on production rather than perception, and on acoustics rather rather than articulation, but we will also sketch the application of similar methods to articulatory data, and we will explore analogous approaches to perceptual studies.

The course will be organized around three parallel tracks:

  1. Readings to introduce problems and types of solutions;
  2. Exercises to teach relevant techniques;
  3. Work on your own projects.

The details will depend to some extent on the background and goals of the participants in the course.

The course will meet twice a week -- probably in a hybrid mode -- MW 10:15 AM-11:45 AM. Write to the instructor for the Zoom link if it hasn't already been sent to you.

We'll use the Piazza site for discussion, and the Canvas site for submitting assignments.