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Francisco Torreira defends PhD on November 14
Francisco Torreira will defend his thesis 'Speech reduction in spontaneous French and Spanish' on November 14 at 13:30, in the Radboud University aula. The researcher from MPI's Language and Cognition Department found, among other things, that speech reduction can vary greatly across languages.
November 14, 2011
In everyday conversations, we often pronounce speech sounds, syllables, and words less clearly than in formal speech. This phenomenon, known as speech reduction, is pervasive in spontaneous speech. Until recently, researchers in speech science gave little attention to the subject, and phonetic studies on languages other than English, German, and Dutch were scarce.
Francisco Torreira decided to remedy this situation by investigating speech reduction in French and Spanish. For this purpose, he created new corpora of French and Spanish spontaneous speech: the Nijmegen Corpus of Casual French and the Nijmegen Corpus of Causal Spanish.
Torreira discovered that the reduction of speech segments in conversational speech can vary greatly across languages. This suggests that phonetic diversity may be greater in everyday spontaneous speech than in the more widely studied laboratory speech.
He also found only partial support for a series of probabilistic effects on speech reduction previously reported for Germanic languages. Torreira concludes: "The role of probabilistic factors on speech production seems to be more complex than is commonly thought."Francisco.Torreira@mpi.nl