Collaborative Research, Prosodic Structure, An Integrated Empirical and Modeling Investigation 


National Science Foundation (NSF), 2016-2021

PIs: Argyro Katsika (USCB), Elliot Saltzman (Boston University), Hosung Nam (Haskins Laboratories), Jelena Krivokapić (University of Michigan), Louis Goldstein (University of Southern California)

This project examines how the prosodic structure of language shapes the articulation of spoken utterances. Speaking is a complex, uniquely human ability that relies on precisely coordinated movements of the speech organs (tongue, lips, jaw, soft palate, and larynx) and respiratory system. These movements produce sounds that listeners perceive and that convey not only the ‘dictionary’ content of the utterance, but also its prosodic content. Prosody organizes phonological forms into successively larger units or phrases, and renders certain syllables, words and phrases more ‘prominent’ (perceptually or rhythmically important) to the listener. Understanding the processes that shape prosodic structure and how these processes act to transmit this structure through coordination of the speech organs has profound implications for advancing our understanding of language processing and communication disorders, for improving speech technology, and for providing insights regarding the more general relationship between linguistic and cognitive operations. These processes are investigated through a series of articulatory studies–using electromagnetic articulography–and acoustic measurements. These studies are complemented by a series of computational simulations, which will serve the dual purpose of testing the project’s hypotheses and guiding further developments of the prosodic component of the group’s Task-Dynamics model of speech production.

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