Postdoc fellow at Aarhus University (Denmark)
My research focuses around three topics: bias in speech perception, Chinese linguistics, and the interaction between frequency effects and grammar (with a current focus on language acquisition). The languages I currently investigate are mainly French, German and Chinese languages, but I investigate other languages as well (like Dutch, Japanese). I collaborate on a long term basis with Prof. Liang Jie (Tongji University), Prof. Jeroen van de Weijer (Shanghai International Studies University), and Dr. Chun Zhang (Aarhus University).
Coder bias (Danish and Dutch below)
Post-doc project, funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research "Mobilex Mobility Grant", co-financed by the EU Program "Marie-Curie" under FP7.
Paving the Way for a More Reliable Linguistics
Speech transcriptions, the decoding of sounds in letters or other visual symbols, are important means for investigating pronunciation. For instance, sounds of a particular dialect can only be statistically analysed if they have been transcribed. Transcriptions are also used in foreign language education, speech therapy, and language counselling (like in asylum requests). Transcriptions are currently often made by speech processing software, but have to be corrected manually: it cannot fully replace human codings. Some sounds cannot be analysed by speech processing software at all. But are human codings reliable? The answer is probably no. Recently, it turned out that linguistically subjects are easily biased towards an overall accent they perceive in a speaker, such that coders exposed to a certain accent may expect and therefore actually hear prototypical characteristics of this accent—even if these are not present in the phonetic signal. Even professional coders turned out to be subject to coder bias. The scope of this deviation in formal transcription tasks is still unknown, neither has a standard procedure been developed in order to arrive at better results. Since human codings should be as accurate and as reliable as possible, this research aims at the development of a “gold standard” for linguistic transcriptions.
Bane Vejen for en Mere Pålidelig Lingvistik (Dansk)Projektbeskrivelse: Transskriptioner af tale er vigtige redskaber i udtaleforskningen. For eksempel kan lydene i en bestemt dialekt kun analyseres statistisk, hvis de er blevet transskriberede. Transskriptioner bruges også indenfor fremmedsprogsundervisning, taleterapi og sprogrådgivning (som for eksempel i asylansøgninger). Transskriptioner laves i dag ofte med digitale talebehandlingsprogrammer, men de skal rettes manuelt, da software ikke fuldt ud kan erstatte menneskelige kodninger. Nogle lyde kan slet ikke analyseres ved hjælp af digitale talebehandlingsprogrammer. Men er menneskelige kodninger pålidelige? Svaret er sandsynligvis nej. Nyere undersøgelser har vist, at de fonetiske træk, som man hører, let påvirkes af en talendes accent. Det betyder, at den lyttendes forventninger påvirker de prototypiske særpræg, som han eller hun hører ved en accent, selv når disse særpræg ikke er til stede i det fonetiske signal. Selv professionelle transskribenter har vist sig at ligge under for egne forventninger. Mængden af afvigelser i formelle transskriptionsopgaver er stadig ukendt, og der er endnu ikke udviklet en standardprocedure for at opnå mere konsistente resultater. Formålet med denne forskning er at bidrage til udviklingen af standardiserede transskriptionskonventioner, der kan fungere som retningslinjer i sprogvidenskaben. Da menneskelige kodninger bør være så præcise og pålidelige som muligt, sigter denne forskning mod at udvikle en gylden standard for sproglige transskriptioner.
Danish accented Chinese
Together with Chun Zhang (Aarhus University) and Lei Wang (Tongji University, Shanghai) I investigate the phonetics and phonology of Chinese as a second language of Danish learners. We investigate production and perception of the sound system and tones by Danish learners and the perception of Danish accented Chinese by others.
Frequency effects and grammar
My PhD focused on the interaction between frequency effects and phonological grammar. For my PhD, I investigated variation and change in German, Indonesian, and Japanese. This work is continued, now involving language acquisition in different languages as well (with Jeroen van de Weijer). In search for the optimal representation of the relation between the lexicon and the grammar, I work within the generative framework of phonology as well as usage-based phonology.
My earlier research was mainly concentrated on different aspects of Dutch and German: (Loanword) phonology, phonological microvariation and sociolinguistics. I investigated umlaut in Dutch dialects, the pronunciation of the BÄREN vowel in Standard German, reduction in Dutch, loanwords in Dutch and Dutch loanwords in Indonesian. More publications about these topics are underway.
Postdoc fellow in Linguistics
"Bias in Auditory Perception"
"Chinese and Germanic Languages: Second Language Acquisition and Perception”
Workshop 9-210 September 2014, Nordic Centre, Fudan University
(Financed through seed funding by the International Centre, Aarhus University)
Latest Talk: 11-15 August, Brisbane
Talk "Beware: Coder Bias!" at the annual conference of the International Applied Linguistics Association in Brisbane, August.
* * * * *
To study birds, you don't need to fly.
To be an astronomer, you don't need to live on the stars.
To study the nutritional value of food, you don't need to be a good cook.
So why do you expect a linguist to speak the languages he investigates?
* * * * *
Latest publication (April 2014)
Persbericht Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Mobility grant awarded from the Danish Council for Independent Research, co-financed by the Marie-Curie Program under FP7. This junior postdoc project "Paving the Way for a More Reliable Linguistics" will be conducted at Aarhus University, Denmark, from January 2014 till December 2015.