Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing

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LMU Fellowship for Daniela Müller


Daniela Müller receives one of ten LMU Research Fellowships

For her project "Liquid Dynamics and Change" Daniela Müller receives one of ten LMU Research Fellowships. LMU Research Fellowships are part of the "Academic Career Program" which is intended to bring young scientists of all subjects to the LMU shortly after they receive their PhDs.

Project description

Speech communication consists of the mental coding of a message, its physical transmission through sound waves and its subsequent decoding by the listener. The sounds (“phonemes”) which are distinctive on a cognitive level are expressed through different kinds of modulations in the acoustic signal. Vowels are signalled by slow modulations, consonants by rapid ones. The so-called liquid sounds – laterals and rhotics – lie in between since they combine characteristics of both vowels and consonants in a rather complex manner. On the one hand this enriches the expressive possibilities of language and speech, but on the other hand, precisely because of this complexity, it leads to a higher source of errors in speech perception and production und thus to a reduced temporal stability and a greater dynamics compared to regular vowels and consonants.

The present project is designed to answer two central questions pertaining to the liquids: 1. What are the gestural dynamics of the tongue back which are responsible for the vocalic component in the liquids, especially in the perceptually dark liquids, and to what extent are speaker-hearers able to imitate fine phonetic detail in this domain? 2. How can the categorial identity of the liquids be understood? How do different types of liquids emerge, what contributes to a change of category or type, how does the phonetic context influence variability or stability of a given type of liquid? Both research questions will be examined experimentally from articulatory, acoustic and perceptual perspectives.