Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
Center for Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Hearing
University of Maryland
Coarticulation, compensation, and phonetic change
The speech stream is highly variable and context-dependent. My research program investigates how speakers, especially children, comprehend and reproduce this variable speech over the lifespan—processes that can lead to historical language change. This particular talk will focus on two groups of young children learning language in unique environments: children with cochlear implants and children in a community undergoing language shift from Quechua to Spanish in Bolivia. I will examine how these children learn to reproduce phonetic patterns despite variable input stemming from their unique language learning environments. In doing so, I will illustrate how children can drive, and forestall, phonetic change in language, shaping typology. Throughout the talk, I will additionally showcase computational tools that I developed to harness, process, and manage large quantities of speech and fieldwork data—tools that are relevant for any linguistic fieldworker. Overall, the talk will view phonetic and phonological acquisition through the lens of multiple learning environments to inform phonetic and linguistic theory.