Studying speech sounds via instrumental acoustic analysis – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Studying speech sounds via instrumental acoustic analysis

Elya Kaplan

Elya Kaplan

Pronouns: she/her

Research Mentor(s): Nicholas Henriksen, Associate Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Romance Languages and Literatures, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 2 (11am – 11:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 1
Presenter: 5

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The Buenos Aires Vowels project examines vowel production in the Buenos Aires, Argentinian variety of Spanish, and how vowels lower prior to the consonant /r/. At this stage, there is impressionistic evidence that Buenos Aires speakers of Spanish lower their vowels prior to /r/, but there are not any published reports on this phenomenon using spontaneous speech. By analyzing data from a corpus of 40 speakers of this variety (20 men and 20 women) using an acoustic analysis software called Praat, we are able to systematically explore the phenomenon of vowel lowering prior to /r/ in comparison to the phenomenon in the control group of students in Salamanca, Spain. The larger implications of this project are twofold: (i) linguistic — the phonetic variability attested in Buenos Aires Spanish is also attested in varieties of European Spanish, which demonstrates that apparent changes in different dialects are not “sporadic” or “isolated”; and (ii) social — by researching dialects such as Buenos Aires Spanish, we give a voice to the speakers of underexplored language varieties and to the social value of their linguistic innovations. Very often, linguistic innovations can be stereotyped and lead to negative associations. Through this research, we aim to avoid such harsh value judgments on linguistic innovations.

Authors: Elya Kaplan
Research Method: Language Skills

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