ProjectNWO MW – Investigating language variation physically

Basic data

Investigating language variation physically
01/09/2012 to 31/08/2013
Abstract / short description:
In this research proposal, we suggest a new level at which dialectal variation should be investigated. We propose to focus on the articulatory characteristics underlying the speech signal, to obtain a more detailed view of linguistic variation than using traditional phonetic analysis. A novel method, electromagnetic articulography (EMA), will allow us to measure the trajectories of several points in and near the mouth in three-dimensional space. As there is only limited experience in analyzing these trajectories, we shall investigate the suitability of using generalized additive models (GAMs). GAMs allow the user to model non-linear relations in any number of dimensions, and may be used here to predict the position of a point (such as the tongue tip) over time in space, while also taking covariates into account. We will obtain and analyze EMA data in two experiments. In the first experiment we assess if GAMs applied to EMA data are able to distinguish northern from southern dialects in well-known dialectal pronunciation differences between the two regions. In the second experiment, we attempt to investigate dialectal variation more broadly. The results of both experiments will inform us about the feasibility of using EMA data to investigate language variation physically.
language variation
electromagnetic articulography
generalized additive modeling

Involved staff


Institute of Linguistics (SfS)
Department of Modern Languages, Faculty of Humanities

Local organizational units

Institute of Linguistics (SfS)
Department of Modern Languages
Faculty of Humanities

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