Janet Pierrehumbert at 24th Manchester Phonology meeting

Janet Pierrehumbert at 24th Manchester Phonology meeting

Janet Pierrehumbert, Professor of Language Modelling at the Oxford e-Research Centre, took part in a special session at the 24th Manchester Phonology meeting on Friday 27 May, at Hulme Hall in Manchester.

The mfm is the UK's annual phonology conference, where linguists from all over the world converge to discuss research on language sound structure, including work on how different languages compare, how children learn their native language, and how languages change over time.

Professor Pierrehumbert took part in a session about the use of different kinds of 'Evidence in Phonology', where she presented results on how statistical patterns reveal basic principles about the cognitive representations of words, using data from Arabic and Maori as well as English.

The session also featured William Idsardi from the University of Maryland and Sharon Rose from the University of California. Professor Idsardi used neuro-imaging data in his talk about how people encode speech signals. Professor Rose explained how her fieldwork on Nilo-Saharian and Niger-Congo languages in East Africa leads to a new understanding of mimetic expressions.

The Centre was also represented at the conference by Jeremy Needle, who benefited from his visit to Oxford in Hilary Term by carrying out a project on computational phonology with Professor Pierrehumbert, Professor Todd Bailey (Cardiff University) and Professor Ulrike Hahn (Birkbeck University of London). He also presented at a seminar on The Social Meaning of Making and Breaking New Words at the Centre earlier this year.

Professor Pierrehumbert's current research at the Oxford e-Research Centre focuses on the relationship between the dynamics of language — in acquisition, processing, or historical change — and the structure of linguistic systems. It combines experiments, statistical analyses of large corpora, and computational simulations of linguistic communities. She leads the Wordovators project, which aims to discover the fundamental mechanisms that support the complexity of the lexicon in human languages. It combines mathematical modeling with large- scale experiments in the form of computer word games hosted on the web.

Her recent paper 'Phonological representation: Beyond abstract versus episodic' was published in the renowned Annual Review of Linguistics this year.

Other recent publications include:

Munson, B, Crocker, L, Pierrehumbert, J.B., Owen-Anderson, A. and Zucker, K.J. (2015) Gender typicality in children's speech: A comparison of boys with and without gender identity disorder. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 137

Hay, J.B., Pierrehumbert, J.B., Walker, A. J. and LaShell, P. (2015) Tracking word frequency effects through 130 years of sound change, Cognition 139, 83-91.