Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dr. John Esling (UVic) to visit Linguistics Department

Dr. Esling is a phonetician at the University of Victoria in BC and principle investigator on the SSHRC-funded project "Infant Speech Acquisition" (InSpA), which studies the "earliest acquisition of the phonetic speech-production capacity". We are pleased to have him visit our department from October 28 to November 1st.

In addition to giving a talk entitled "Laryngeal Articulation: Infant Acquisition of the Phonetic Capacity", Dr. Esling has generously agreed to meet with all and any interested faculty or students to discuss their research or any questions relevant to phonetics.

More info to come in the near future. Please save the date.

In the meantime, have a look at his website and a description of his talk:

Many languages of the world exhibit features that can be classified in terms of laryngeal articulation. The auditory and acoustic cues of these features illustrate the extensive range of use of the laryngeal constrictor mechanism (controlling changes from the glottis through the aryepiglottic folds), with consequent effects on the pharyngeal resonator. Using direct laryngoscopic observation techniques, we have collected visual evidence of the fine control of laryngeal constriction in over two dozen languages, establishing a hierarchy for the operation of the mechanism and modelling laryngeal behaviour to illustrate the parameters of movement available in the laryngeal/pharyngeal articulator.

The laryngeal/pharyngeal articulator has also been identified as the principal articulator that infants first start to control as they test and practice their phonetic production skills from birth through the first several months of life. The auditory/acoustic cues that are generated in the pharynx are the same elements of sound production observed in newborn infants from a range of language environments. Infant vocalization data during the first year of life illustrate that laryngeal quality is primal, that articulatory awareness develops first in the pharynx and larynx through the manipulation of phonetic alternations, that control of the acoustic cues of speech originates in the pharynx, and that the acquisition of the ability to produce manners of articulation spreads from the pharynx in a process of pharyngeal priming that parallels and complements the ability of infants to discriminate auditory speech-sound categories perceptually.

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