LabexEFL lecture series: Jo Verhoeven

Lecture 4: June 7: 2 to 4 p.m.

Phonetic characteristics of Foreign Accent Syndrome.

This lecture will discuss the phonetic characteristics of Foreign Accent Syndrome on the basis of an exhaustive inventory of all the patients with FAS that have been reported so far. The collected evidence reveals that FAS correlates with clear changes in articulatory setting towards fortition (in some speakers) or lenition (in others). It will be discussed how some of these phonetic characteristics can be used to distinguish clinically between different types of FAS.

LabexEFL lecture series: Jo Verhoeven

Lecture 3: May 31: 2 to 4 pm.

Foreign Accent Syndrome as a motor speech disorder.

Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) has been regarded as a speech production disorder defined in perceptual terms: the articulation of individuals changes suddenly as a result of e.g. damage to the central nervous system and their speech is recognised as foreign accented by speakers of the same speech community as the FAS patient. The first patient with FAS was reported in 1907 by the French neurologist Pierre Marie, who described a patient whose original Parisian French accent had changed into an Alsatian accent after a stroke affecting the left hemisphere of the brain. Since then approximately 150 patients with this syndrome have been reported in the scientific literature.

This lecture will discuss the history of Foreign Accent Syndrome and illustrates the different taxonomical subtypes that have been distinguished. It will furthermore explore some of the salient neurological aspects of the different types. It will generally be argued that FAS arises as a misinterpretation by listeners of markers of ‘state’ as ‘speech community’ markers.

SRPP: Stress in Modern Breton: theoretical, experimental, and historical perspectives

In this talk I explore Breton stress from three perspectives: theoretical, experimental and historical. I start with a theoretical analysis of stress patterns across speakers from different linguistic backgrounds, encompassing both so-called ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ speakers, and challenging the notion that ‘new’ speakers use a French stress pattern when speaking Breton. I then use experimental methods to explore the concept of ‘stress deafness’, a term which was first applied to French, and consider whether speakers of Breton, a minority language, perceive and store stress patterns with greater ease than monolingual speakers. Finally, I examine a phenomenon which seems to have undergone change in the recent history of Breton, namely the placement of stress on proclitics.

SRPP: Unveiling Parkinson’s Disease Features for AI-driven Analysis: Relevance of Acoustics, Kinematics and Perception

In this presentation, the focus will be on the speech characteristics of people with Parkinson’s disease, highlighting the fact that speech changes should not be considered as a late symptom anymore but as an early marker of motor impairment. Given the heterogeneous presentation of both gross motor and speech motor symptoms, there is significant variability in the data. The individual progression of speech impairments and the diverse responses to treatment options continue to pose a challenge to comprehensively characterizing the ability to speak in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Advancements in machine learning and deep learning techniques have notably improved the capabilities of automatic speech analysis systems, enabling more precise and nuanced assessments of speech. Consequently, leveraging artificial intelligence could address recent research challenges by integrating speech features with clinical characteristics to establish robust, reliable, and objective speech-based biomarkers. This presentation will explore the potential of AI in addressing these challenges, elucidate potential data analysis methodologies, and discuss future applications in this domain.

SRPP de (1) Andrés F. Lara et (2) Lei Xi

(1) An acoustic-articulatory description of French ‘R’
Andrés Felipe Lara (Laboratoire de Phonétique et Phonologie)

The acquisition of rhotics poses significant challenges for individuals of all age groups, including children and adults. These challenges arise from the variable acoustic properties and intricate articulation processes associated with rhotics. The aim of my research is to tackle this complexity by establishing a quantifiable description of the production of French ‘R’ among native French speakers. Through the application of quantitative acoustic and articulatory analysis, my objective is to lay the groundwork for future comparisons with bilingual adult speakers and late learners of French. In this presentation, I will strive to establish a correlation between specific acoustic characteristics of French rhotics and the corresponding articulatory gestures necessary for their production. This analysis will provide valuable insights into the difficulties that bilingual speakers and language learners may encounter when acquiring the French rhotic.

(2) Traitement de la frontière prosodique du français : études comportementale et électroencéphalographique
Lei Xi (Laboratoire de Phonétique et Phonologie)

La prosodie assume beaucoup de fonctions importantes dans la communication verbale, dont la segmentation et la désambiguïsation. Dans cette communication, nous allons présenter deux expériences sur la désambiguïsation syntaxique par la prosodie en français.

Dans l’expérience comportementale, nous avons demandé à 20 francophones natifs de compléter une série de phrases localement ambiguës, avec deux clôtures prosodiques différentes (précoce et tardive) afin de déterminer s’ils pouvaient assigner correctement les mots cibles à leurs fonctions syntaxiques sur la base des indices prosodiques disponibles. Les données comportementales ont montré que les participants, bien que natifs du français, ont eu des difficultés à établir la fonction syntaxique du mot cible, notamment pour la clôture précoce.

Afin de mieux étudier le traitement des deux frontières prosodiques différentes, nous avons ensuite mené une expérience électroencéphalographique (EEG), pendant laquelle le signal électrophysiologique continu de 20 francophones natifs a été enregistré en écoutant les mêmes phrases ambiguës. Les données neurocognitives suggèrent que les frontières prosodiques ont été analysées comme l’atteste le potentiel évoqué Closure Positive Shift (CPS), présentant un maximum autour de 400 à 500 ms après l’onset de la dernière syllabe qui précède la frontière prosodique. Par ailleurs, l’analyse sur la latence du pic CPS implique la même sensibilité neurocognitive pour le traitement de clôture précoce vs tardive.

Prises en ensemble, les données ont été interprétées à la lumière des prédictions de Late Closure Preference et d’Informative Boundary Hypothesis et nous avons souligné l’importance du contexte prosodique complet et informatif en perception de la parole.

SRPP: Lexical stress modulates lenition: The case of palato-alveolar affricates in Italian

The outcome of synchronic velar palatalization in Italian before [-i] is described to be either a palato-alveolar affricate in most northern varieties, e.g. [‘mɔnako] – [‘mɔnatʃi] (‘monk’ Sg. and Pl.) or an alveolar fricative in Tuscan varieties as well as in certain central and southern varieties, e.g., [‘mɔnako] – [‘mɔnaʃi] [Bertinetto, 2010; Marotta & Vannelli, 2021]. This study documents an ongoing lenition process affecting the outcome of velar palatalization in speakers of the ‘affricate’ varieties of Italian. We present acoustic and articulatory data (EMA) from 15 speakers showing a significant degree of deaffrication [Calabrese, 2005] in these sequences, which has both a temporal and a spatial component and that it is further modulated by the position of the consonant with respect to lexical stress. Our results demonstrate that far-from-stress affricates are more lenited, both temporally and spatially than post-tonic ones, and highlight the dynamic nature of synchronic lenition in Italian, particularly in the deaffrication process.  We will present how these patterns of lenition manifest in acoustic and articulatory parameters, including (i) the duration of the consonants, (ii) the rms amplitude of the consonants, (iii) tongue trajectories and tongue postions. Overall, our study underscores the importance of considering the role of stress in the phonetic triggering – or blocking – of variation and change.

Bertinetto, P.M. (2010) Fonetica italiana, (eds. Simone R., Berruto G., d’Achille, P.), Enciclopedia  dell’Italiano, Rome, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana.

Calabrese A. (2005) Markedness and Economy in a Derivational Model of Phonology, Berlin, De Gruyter.

Marotta G., Vanelli L. (2021) Fonologia e prosodia dell’italiano, Rome, Carocci Editore.

SRPP: Spatiotemporal features of Geminate and Singleton consonants – In Italian and (a little bit) beyond!

In various languages such as Italian and Japanese, consonant duration plays a contrastive role, as seen in examples like Italian /pipa/ « pipe » versus /pipːa/ « pipsqueak ». Traditionally, research on singleton/geminate contrasts has focused on acoustic analyses, revealing that geminate consonants exhibit longer closure and total duration compared to singletons. This has led to proposals suggesting representations of geminates based on features such as [±long], association with multiple timing units, or gestures with longer activation intervals. However, recent articulatory studies, particularly those employing motor control-oriented approaches, have challenged the notion that geminates are merely longer versions of singletons. Research by Löfqvist (2005) and Tilsen & Hermes (2020) has suggested that geminates may have distinct targets and control regimes, indicating a need for a more nuanced understanding. Conversely, phonologically oriented work has taken seriously the idea that geminates may be constituted by two (overlapping) articulatory gestures (e.g., Di Benedetto et al. 2021).

In this presentation, I will share the findings of an articulatory (3D EMA) study of Italian (bilabial) singleton and geminate consonants produced at a variety of rates. The results of this work challenge the notion that geminates are purely longer versions of singletons. Even in the face of variation in speaking rate, Italian geminates display distinct kinematic profiles and kinematic parameters compared to singletons; intriguingly geminates also display a different timing organization to surrounding segments. I present preliminary modeling evidence that considers the distinct spatial and temporal features between singleton and geminate stop and tries to integrate them into a unified model of phonology and speech production. Finally, I will broaden the picture and discuss other ways in which geminates can be instantiated in ways that are more reminiscent of longer singletons by drawing from ongoing analysis of articulatory work on Japanese geminates.

I conclude by briefly outlining the importance of physiological work on geminates in developing representation that can bring closer phonology, phonetics, and motor control.

SRPP: Exploring prosodic modulation in French Sign Language (LSF): A kinematic study on sign language coarticulation

During interaction, speakers tend to adjust the amount of coarticulatory cues to increase or decrease perceptual distances between competing speech units. Anticipatory coarticulation has also been observed in the visual-gestural modality. Despite this, little is known about the use of coarticulatory strategies in sign language. We built the first study that investigates coarticulation in French Sign Language (LSF) using 3D Electromagnetic Articulography (EMA) to provide precise kinematic measurements in sign production. In this novel approach, a deaf native signer was recorded (EMA/video) producing phonological pairs of signs composed of ‘1’- and/or ‘3’-handshape. Our findings demonstrate that kinematic data allows for the detection of coarticulation in various discourse contexts. Temporally, we observe the anticipation of the ‘3’-handshape before the end of its immediately preceding ‘1’-handshape sign (and vice versa). Spatially, the (repetitive movement of) the sign is affected by reduction/truncation if followed by another sign. Within a dynamical approach (Articulatory Phonology), we analyze the kinematics of our sign data as a result of systematic patterns of overlapping organization triggered by the phonological system. Based on this view, we attempt to take a step forward towards an integration of gradient and categorical processes such as coarticulation and assimilation.

SRPP: Letter shapes phonology: Feature economy and informativeness in 43 writing systems

Yoolim Kim, Marc Allassonnière-Tang, Helena Miton, Olivier Morin

Differentiating letter shapes accurately is an increasingly indispensable competence. Are letters as distinctive as they could be? We used a unique dataset of crowdsourced letter descriptions across 43 writing systems to produce a comprehensive typology of letter shapes for these diverse scripts. We built the gaming applet to allow thousands of participants to play with letter shapes. We extracted from 19,591 letter classifications, contributed by 1,683 participants, enough features to provide a unique description of all letters in each system. We show that scripts, compared to phoneme inventories, are feature-extensive: they use additional features to do what could be done with a lower number of features, used more efficiently. Compared to 516 phoneme inventories from the P-base dataset, our 43 scripts have lower feature economy (fewer symbols for a given number of features) and lower feature informativeness (a less balanced distribution of feature values). Letter shapes, having more degrees of freedom than speech sounds, use features in a more wasteful way.