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International Chair 2024 - Johan Verhoeven - City University of London

Updated: May 21

From May 22, 2024, we will be welcoming Professor Johan Verhoeven for a series of four seminars on the theme of "Low-level segmental and suprasegmental phonetic complexity in typical and atypical speech".

The seminars will take place on May 22 and 31 at Université Paris Cité, and on June 7 and 11 at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Lecture 1: May 22, 10 to 12 midday

Salle 1009 Sophie Germain Université Paris Cité (Place Aurélie Nemours 75013 Paris, in front of bâtiment Olympe de Gouges)

ID de réunion: 841 5068 6242Code secret: 347183

Intrinsic Vowel Pitchː Physiological Determination or Perceptual Enhancement?

Intrinsic vowel pitch refers to the phenomenon that high vowels such as /i/ and /u/ in languages of the world have a significantly higher fundamental frequency than low vowels such as /ɑ/ and /a/. This phenomenon has been attested in every language that has been investigated for it (Whalen & Levitt, 1995, Van Hoof & Verhoeven, 2011). This exact value of this F0 difference between high and low vowels differs substantially from as small as 7 Hz in Arabic to as large as 28 Hz in Dutch and English (Van Hoof & Verhoeven, 2011).

Intrinsic Vowel Pitch has been accounted for in essentially two ways. On the one hand, there is the assumption that IF0 is entirely physiologically determined by the interaction between the articulatory and phonatory systems in speech production. This hypothesis holds that IF0 determined by articulation and cannot be actively controlled by speakers. On the other hand, there is the hypothesis, which holds that IF0 does play a communicative role in languages in that it is used by speakers to perceptually enhance vowel contrasts, which is particularly useful in languages with large vowel systems. This debate between the two hypotheses has been going on for decades and has not been resolved as yet.

This lecture will review some of the arguments for both hypotheses and presents evidence for the perceptual enhancement hypothesis on the basis of a large number of acoustic measurements of the vowels in the speech of children with hearing impairment and those with normal hearing. These measurements indicate that it may be worthwhile to explore the role of hearing in IF0 and a case will be presented for the communicative value of IF0.

Lecture 2: May 31, 3 to 5 p.m.

Room 153 Olympe de Gouges, Université Paris Cité (8 rue Albert Einstein, 75013 PARIS)

ID de réunion: 861 9267 8082Code secret: 334176

Foreign Accent Syndrome as a motor speech disorder.

Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) has been regarded as a speech production disorder defined in perceptual terms: the articulation of individuals changes suddenly as a result of e.g. damage to the central nervous system and their speech is recognised as foreign accented by speakers of the same speech community as the FAS patient. The first patient with FAS was reported in 1907 by the French neurologist Pierre Marie, who described a patient whose original Parisian French accent had changed into an Alsatian accent after a stroke affecting the left hemisphere of the brain. Since then approximately 150 patients with this syndrome have been reported in the scientific literature.

This lecture will discuss the history of Foreign Accent Syndrome and illustrates the different taxonomical subtypes that have been distinguished. It will furthermore explore some of the salient neurological aspects of the different types. It will generally be argued that FAS arises as a misinterpretation by listeners of markers of 'state' as 'speech community' markers.

Lecture 3: June 7: 2 to 4 p.m.

Room « Salle du conseil », second floor, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, “Maison de la Recherche” (4, rue des irlandais, 75005 PARIS, RER Luxembourg)

ID de réunion: 917 2376 3495

Code secret: 139010

Phonetic characteristics of Foreign Accent Syndrome.

This lecture will discuss the phonetic characteristics of Foreign Accent Syndrome on the basis of an exhaustive inventory of all the patients with FAS that have been reported so far. The collected evidence reveals that FAS correlates with clear changes in articulatory setting towards fortition (in some speakers) or lenition (in others). It will be discussed how some of these phonetic characteristics can be used to distinguish clinically between different types of FAS.

Lecture 4: June 11: 10 to 12 midday

Room « Salle Claude Simon », ground floor, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, “Maison de la Recherche” (4, rue des irlandais, 75005 PARIS, RER Luxembourg)

ID de réunion: 929 8067 2465

Code secret: 037705

Asymmetries in the articulation of English speech sounds.

In descriptions of the articulation of speech sounds, it has (more often than not) been assumed that lingual articulation is symmetrical in the lateral dimension; it has been expected that contact between the tongue and the palate is equally extensive on the left-hand side of its midline as on the right-hand side. Recent research has confirmed that the vast majority of speech sounds have asymmetrical articulation with somewhat more contact between the tongue and the palate on the right-hand side in the majority of speakers. This seems consistent with right-hand preference for motor skill. This lecture will explore some of the issues relating to asymmetry in speech articulation and will present further evidence regarding speech asymmetry on the basis of recent electropalatography data on recordings of native speakers of English.


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