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Asymmetries in the articulation of speech sounds: the case of tongue-palate contact.


Public, Staff, Students, Academics

The Centre for Language and Communication Sciences Research welcomes Dr Jo Verhoeven from the Division of Language and Communication Science at the School of Health Sciences to discuss his latest paper.

In studies of speech production, it has often been implicitly assumed that articulation is symmetrical in the transverse plane of the vocal tract. In terms of tongue contact with the palate this means that tongue contact on the right side of the palate is equally extensive as on the left side of the palate. Nevertheless, palatograms visualising tongue-palate contact patterns published in instrumental studies of speech often show asymmetrical tongue-palate contact, but these have largely been ignored.

This paper presents the results from an investigation of asymmetries in speech articulation on the basis of 1,502 previously published palatograms of a wide variety of speech sounds in a range of languages. For each palatogram, the direction and degree of tongue-palate contact was quantified by means of an index capturing the degree of lateral asymmetry. The results of this investigation show that lingual asymmetry in the articulation of speech sounds is substantial: 83 % of the palatograms are asymmetrical. With respect to the direction of the asymmetry it is found that the asymmetry is more often towards the left side of the palate (45 %) than to the right side (38 %). Further analysis reveals that there are significant differences in both the direction and the degree of the asymmetry as a function of manner and place of articulation.

These results indicate that these asymmetries merit further experimental investigation particularly with respect to their direction and their relationship with the asymmetrical organisation of the brain, handedness and hemispheric dominance for language.

About the speaker

Dr Jo Verhoeven studied Germanic languages and phonetics at the Universities of Antwerp and Edinburgh. He has been at City since 2006 during which time he developed a strong interest in the phonetic description of motor speech disorders such as dysarthria, apraxia of speech and Foreign Accent Syndrome. He has published widely on this topic. Recently he has acquired funding from the Leverhulme Trust to investigate the presence of lingual asymmetries in the articulation of speech sounds in English. This project is a collaboration with Dr Carlos Reyes-Aldasoro from the School of Engineering.

A light lunch with refreshments will be provided.

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12.45pm - 2.00pmMonday 9th October 2017

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