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Strand 1: Phonetic and phonological complexity

Leader : Claire Pillot-Loiseau (LPP - Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle)

Co-leader : Jalal Al-Tamimi (LLF - Université Paris Cité)


Phonological and phonetic phenomena and units must be considered as complex because they result from the interaction of totally independent constraints (articulatory, perceptual and auditory constraints, linguistic and systemic constraints, etc.).

The objectives of this component are threefold:

  • Study phenomena relating to phonetics, phonology and their interfaces in standard and non-standard language (speech and voice disorders, L2 learners), in order to better understand the physical and structural properties of speech sounds ;

  • Develop an integrative approach by taking advantage of a wide range of complementary perspectives with specialists in different fields, and new technological advances (databases, data mining and new equipment for the study of speech organs);

  • Promote interdisciplinary collaborations between linguists, doctors, speech therapists and language teachers, and the development of applications for language learning and teaching (PPC4), and for assessment and remediation in the clinical context (PPC3, PPC5). Two start-ups are planned (see workpackage PPC10) These objectives will be achieved within the framework of an innovative approach combining complementary perspectives and paradigms: experimental and evolutionary phonetics and phonology, corpus-based approaches, clinical phonetics, acquisition and learning language and language typology.

Our research project will benefit from revolutionary technological progress opening up new perspectives. Thanks to the increasingly sophisticated instruments implemented in the LPP-Paris3 PEP2 physiological platform, the simultaneous capture of the movements of all speech organs is becoming more and more accessible, allowing a more global vision of speech production. and phonology. The psycholinguistic experiments will test the psychological reality of the linguistic constructions studied and their treatment. In collaboration with Axis 3, evolutionary phonology, which unifies diachronic and synchronic perspectives, will draw on the important databases of CRLAO and Lacito for more than 50 languages, and will provide a valuable means of arriving at independent laws of phonological change. Clinical phonetics and language learning studies (in L1 or L2) will focus on non-standard systems (altered or in the process of being acquired, respectively).


Finally, the approaches based on the corpus or the exploration of speech will allow both a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the spoken data. The enormous advances made in recent decades in information technologies (including automatic speech and language processing) allow us to envision new tools to automatically explore large corpora. This program will build in part on existing shared annotated corpora, in part on newly produced corpora and annotations in relation to Axis 6.


Our project is also guided by our commitment to work in parallel on different populations and types of data (normal and impaired speakers, native and non-native speakers, longitudinal data, inter and intra-speakers, multilingual data, etc.).


This combination of new experimental techniques and original vocal material opens up exciting research perspectives for the future and will help to shed light on a wide range of fundamental questions in phonetics and phonology. Innovative achievements are also expected for society as a whole and for more specific areas. Applied tools and resources will be designed for clinical diagnosis and remediation, language teaching and pronunciation training in education, as well as vocal techniques in the arts.




1. LABFIELD: Bringing the lab into the field

The proposed research strategy consists of structuring collaborations between field linguists and laboratory phoneticians. This approach confers twofold empirical solidity on the studies that will be conducted: field linguists have a fine-grained understanding of the sound structures of less-investigated languages; phoneticians have expert know-how on techniques for exploring these phonological structures.

Research topics are chosen jointly by linguists and phoneticians, and formulated so as to arrive at focused results to be submitted to reference journals. The output consists of precise and reliable descriptions of the languages studied, placed in the perspective of theoretical questions that both phonetics and linguistics need to address. The research topics are arranged by (loosely understood) linguistic-geographic areas:


  • Labfield 1 : Subsaharan Africa

  • Labfield 2 : North Africa

  • Labfield 3 : Saharan Africa

  • Labfield 4 : Asia

Responsables :

  D. Demolin (LPP, Paris3)

  M. Van de Velde (LLACAN)


2. PHUCS: Phonological units: content and structure

This operation deals with the structure and content of phonological units (syllables, phonemes, and distinctive features). It raises the question of their representation in linguistic systems, their physical manifestation, and their psychological reality. The members of this operation work on different languages in an approach combining theoretical questions, experimental investigations, modeling, and typological perspectives. Work is organized around three WPs:


  • 2.1 PHUCS 1: Phonological contrasts and phonetic implementation

  • 2.2 PHUCS 2: Sound change and sound patterns

  • 2.3 PHUCS 3: Sociophonétique et grammaires polylectales

Responsables :

  R. Ridouane (LPP, P3)

  K. Chirkova (CRLAO)


3. PROVS: Prosodic variation and structuring

Work carried out under this theme investigates the relation between multilayered structure in the acoustic-articulatory signal and in linguistic representations. Many types of phonetic variation are traced back to different levels of prosodic structure, from segment and syllable to the intonational phrase. Here we focus on three specific aspects: syllabic complexity, timing, intelligibility. We address the following questions:

  1. What linguistic factors, besides phonological ones (syllable complexity and prosodic prominence), contribute to phonotactic typological diversity?

  2. To what extent does the timing of long-distance effects assist speech planning and processing?

  3. To what extent do differences between phonological systems interact with the capacity of recovering linguistic information in unintelligible conditions?


  • 3.1 PROVS 1: Syllable complexity and phonotactic diversity

  • 3.2 PROVS 2: Timing effects

  • 3.3 PROVS 3: Speech intelligibility Responsables 

Responsables :

  I. Chitoran (CLILLAC-ARP)

  M. Adda-Decker (LPP, P3)


4. SPEL: Speech Production in Learner Varieties

This operation deals with the interplay between phonetics and phonology in all learning varieties. In particular, we will focus on two aspects that remain underexplored in the acquisition of phonetic and phonological competences in child (L1: monolingual and bilingual, signers) and adult (L2: learners and bilingual) production:

     - the phonetic implementation of phonological categories by speaking and signing children, in a large age       range (from 8 months old to 10 years old) (WP 1)

     - phonetic and phonological categories and reorganization in L2 learner production (WP 2).

We will also compare differences and similarities of phonetic and phonological categories in the two learning varieties (L1 and L2).

At the moment, we are interested in studying the impact of masked-speech on the acquisition of contrasts by monolingual and heritage children and by adult learners and signers.


  • 4.1 SPEL 1: The phonetic implementation of phonological categories in L1

  • 4.2 SPEL 2: Phonetic and phonological categories and reorganization in L2 learner production

Responsables :

  N. Yamaguchi (LPP, P3)

  G. Turco (LLF)


5. CIVI: Coordination in verbal interactions

We aim at characterizing the coordinative and interactional dimensions of language communication. We will study how speakers manage to coordinate with no apparent effort several processes at a wide range of levels (physical, physiological, cognitive, social, to name but a few) and time scales. We will try to understand the relations between inter-speaker temporal coordination and the many adaptation phenomena leading speakers to assume behaviours that are similar to that of theirs interlocutors on both linguistically relevant and irrelevant dimensions. We will study the role played in linguistic interactions by the coordination between verbal and nonverbal behaviour (eg. F0 and body movements or facial expressions) and the coordination between electrophysiological signals recorded from interacting speakers. Finally, we will study how interactional settings contribute to the acquisition of the first and second language and how they can help treating speech pathologies that, as stuttering, affect speech timing.

  • 5.1 CIVI 1: The coordination of verbal and nonverbal behaviour in conversational settings.

  • 5.2 CIVI 2: Coordinative aspects of behavioural adaptation and speech convergence in verbal interactions.

  • 5.3 CIVI 3: Contribution of an interactional setting to L2 learning and to the treatment of speech pathologies.

  • 5.4 CIVI 4: Gesture and prosody from a multimodal perspective.

Responsables :

  L. Lancia (LPP, P3)

  C. Gendrot (LPP-P3)

6. PATH: From normal to pathological: variations of voice and speech

Researches planned for this operation fall in the domain of Clinical Phonetics which endeavor is to better understand Voice and Speech through the joint study of their normal and pathological functioning. The aim is to deepen our understanding of the production system (from the larynx to the lips) in all the diversity of its functions and behaviors, and to question the limits of its variability, from normal to pathological patterns.


  • 6.1 PATH 1: Linguistic, paralinguistic and artistic uses of voice and speech: variability and flexibility of the production system

  • 6.2 PATH 2: Disorders of voice and speech: variability and alterability of the production system

  • 6.3 PATH 3: Aging in voice and speech: maturation and decline of the production system

  • 6.4 PATH 4: Perceptual impact of voice and speech variation on communication and speaker representation

Responsables :

  C. Pillot-Loiseau (LPP, P3),

  N. Audibert (LPP, P3)

Strand 1 video presentation
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