Research grants

Mobilex Mobility Grant

Paving the Way for a More Reliable Linguistics

 Funding organization

The Danish Council for Independent Research, with support from the Marie Curie Program under FP7.

Grant website

Project description

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.

Date

30 September 2013

Grant amount

DKK 2,380,042

Duration

January 2014-December 2015

 

Seed Grant Interacting Minds Center

Does Musical Perception Influence Segmental Perception in Language?

Funding organization

Interacting Minds Center, Aarhus University

Grant website

Project description

Musical skills are known to facilitate acquisition of prosody in second language acquisition. But does it also facilitate perception of vowels and consonants? Human perception is subjective and segmental perception is easily biased by an overall accent of the speaker. Can musical perception lead to a more objective way of listening?

We investigate this for consonant perception in Chinese. For the same set of data, one group of listeners will be informed they listen to Mandarin data and an other group will be informed it is Wu dialect. The crucial difference is that Mandarin has a two-way plosive contrast (tai-thai), whereas Wu has a three-way plosive contrast (tai-thai-dai). We expect perception is influenced by the known contrast. We will repeat the experiment with the same subjects but in this case with music fragments in between. A control group will just repeat the first experiment.

If musical perception makes segmental processing more objective, this might be a way to lead to more objective transcriptions of language.

Date

June 2014

Grant amount

DKK     19,680

Duration

August-December 2014

 

PhD grant

Phonological Grammar and Frequency Effects

Funding organization

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Graduiertenkolleg 1624/1, Freiburg University

Project description

In language change, we usually find that words with a relatively low word frequency change at a faster rate than words with a relatively high word frequency. Reversely, in reduction processes, we observe that high-frequency words tend to change first and low-frequency words change later. How do these facts relate to variable processes in which neither analogical change nor reduction is involved? Does frequency also play a role, for instance, in stable patterns of variation or in loanword adaptation?

This dissertation investigates phonological variation and change in three case studies: the pronunciation of the long vowel <ä> in Standard German, Dutch loanword integration in Indonesian, and sequential voicing in Japanese. It shows that frequency effects occur such that relatively high-frequency words adapt to a general phonological rule and relatively low-frequency words behave differently. This exceptional behaviour of low-frequency words may be related to their relatively unstable or opaque lexical representation or their opaque morphophonological structure.

This thesis also investigates the relation between frequency effects and grammar. It is shown that these two factors are not independent, as suggested by earlier literature, but, on the contrary, intimately related. Frequency effects are sensitive to grammatical structure. This calls for an amalgamation of phonological models which were previously regarded as disconnected; therefore this thesis proposes a combined Exemplar-Prototype-Optimality theoretical model (EPOT).

Date

June 2009

 Duration

October 2009-September 2010

Grants for the organization of conferences

Internationalization Denmark-China

Chinese and Germanic Languages: Second Language Acquisition and Perception

Joint application with Jie Liang (Tongji University) and Jeroen van de Weijer (Shanghai International Studies University)

Funding organization

Aarhus University/International Centre

Funded activity

Workshop and research stay for a month at the Nordic Centre/Fudan University, Shanghai

Program

Reimbursement

Conference organization, travel and accommodation costs

Date

9-10 October 2014

Grant amount

DKK 31,450

Promotion Open Access Publication

Workshop Open Access Publication

Joint application with James Griffiths, Marieke Haan, and Jet Vonk

Funding organization

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

Funded activity

Workshop about Open Access publication during the Annual Linguistic conference 33rd TabuDag, Groningen University

Program

 Date

18 – 19 June 2012

Grant amount

EUR 2,000

Publication grants

Bias in Auditory Perception

Funding organization

Aarhus University Research Foundation

Project description

The Interacting Minds Centre organized an international and multidisciplinary conference “Bias in Auditory Perception” on September 18-20, 2014. Papers presented at this conference are published in a special issue of the peer-reviewed open access journal i-Perception. The papers cover an array of topics in language, musical, and emotional perception, addressing questions as:

1. What is the effect of prior knowledge, believed knowledge, or impaired knowledge on auditory perception?
2. In which contexts can we expect biased auditory perception?
3. What are the (societal) consequences of auditory bias?

The purpose of the conference and the publication is to put auditory bias on the map as a research topic that is approached from different perspectives. A further aim of the special issue is to reach a wider readership among different disciplines in which bias in auditory perception is—or becomes—a relevant issue, such as (applied) linguistics, psychology, and musicology.

Date

October 2014

Grant amount

DKK 71,060