Category Archives: Conferences

A Resounding Success: Our Journey at ICPHS 2023

From August 7th to 11th, our research group embarked on an illuminating expedition to the 20th International Congress of the Phonetic Sciences (ICPHS) 2023. As one of the most significant congresses in the field of phonetics, the ICPHS is a pivotal event that only occurs once every four years. We were proud to have nine active participants from our group in attendance. Of these, three members delivered compelling oral presentations, while the rest engaged the academic community through insightful poster presentations.

Within our research group, the conference served as a testament to our unity and collective strength. Every individual contributed to the tapestry of success, and the supportive atmosphere propelled each of us to excel. As questions flowed from the audience, they illuminated the depth of engagement and curiosity that permeated the conference. More details of what we presented in the congress will be provided in the following. This post also aims to encapsulate our experiences, learnings, and the milestones achieved during this prestigious event.

Objectives and Expectations

The overarching theme of ICPHS 2023 was “Intermingling Communities and Changing Cultures,” which deeply resonates with the emerging dynamics of our interconnected world. Over the past few decades, there has been an unprecedented surge in mobility and interpersonal contacts, disrupting the boundaries of national languages and impacting speech patterns universally.

Our primary objective for attending the congress was twofold. Firstly, we aimed to share our own insights and research findings with a broader academic community. We were particularly eager to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about how modern societal shifts are influencing phonetics and phonology. Secondly, we were excited to learn from other leading researchers in the field. We wanted to grasp what constitutes ‘trendy’ research currently and to understand how the academic discourse in this field is changing and evolving.

Moreover, we were keen to explore potential directions for future research and possible collaborative efforts. Given that the congress serves as a melting pot of ideas and innovations, we were optimistic about forging new academic alliances that could pave the way for co-operative ventures in the years to come.

Highlights and Contributions

Oral Presentations

1. Turnbull Rory: Phonological Network Properties of Non-words Influence Their Learnability  

Rory’s study underscored the significance of a word’s phonological neighborhood in phonetic processing, extending this concept to non-words. By analyzing participant responses in an experimental setting, this study demonstrated that non-words with more “neighbors” and well-connected neighbors are learned with higher accuracy, indicating that existing lexicon can significantly influence the acquisition of new words.

2. Du Fengting: Rapid Speech Adaptation and Its Persistence Over Time by Non-Standard and Non-Native Listeners

Fengting’s study delved into the intriguing phenomena of how listeners adapt to accented speech, especially when the talkers share the same, similar or different language backgrounds. Through methodical research, the study revealed that both non-standard and non-native English listeners were more adept at perceiving and adapting to accents the same as their own, but not the similar or different one. Notably, this adaptation was not only immediate but also persisted over a 24-hour period, suggesting intriguing implications for language learning and communication.

3. Li Yanyu, Khattab Ghada and White Laurence: Incremental Cue Training: A Study of Lexical Tone Learning by Non-Tonal Listeners

This presentation offered an innovative perspective on how incremental cue training could aid in lexical tone learning for non-tonal language speakers. The findings suggest that employing exaggerated contrasts in pitch movements during the initial stages of training can significantly improve the learners’ ability to discern tonal differences, leading to comparable end-stage performance with conventional training methods. 

Poster Presentations

1. Kelly Niamh: Interactions of Lexical Stress, Vowel Length, and Pharyngealisation in Palestinian Arabic  

Niamh’s research filled a crucial gap in the understanding of lexical stress in Palestinian Arabic. By analyzing the acoustic correlates of lexical stress, she shed light on the nuanced interactions among stress, phonemic length, and pharyngealization, offering a comprehensive phonetic description of stress patterns in this Arabic variety.

2. Zhang Cong, Lai Catherine, Napoleão de Souza Ricardo, Turk Alice and Bogel Tina: Language Redundancy Effects on Fundamental Frequency (f0): A Preliminary Controlled Study

This study investigated the effects of language redundancy on fundamental frequency (f0), supporting the Smooth Signal Redundancy Hypothesis. Their controlled experiments revealed that language redundancy could indeed affect f0, potentially adding another layer to our understanding of prosodic structure.

3. Dallak Abdulrahman, Khattab Ghada and Al-Tamimi Jalal: Obstruent Voicing and Laryngeal Feature in Arabic

This paper delved into the intricate relationship between voice onset time (VOT) and fundamental frequency (f0) in Jazani Arabic, proposing that f0 perturbation is predictable from VOT patterns. This lends further evidence to the theory of Laryngeal Realism and offers new insights into phonological representation.

4. Krug Andreas, Khattab Ghada and White Laurence: The Effects of Accent Familiarity on Narrative Recall in Noise 

This study questioned whether accent familiarity impacts narrative recall, particularly when listeners are exposed to different accents. Findings indicated a ‘familiarity benefit’ in Tyneside listeners, extending the impacts of accentual familiarity on language perception.

Our group’s robust contributions across diverse areas in phonetics and phonology were met with great interest and sparked important academic discussions, marking a significant footprint in the advancements of the field.

Reflection and Future Directions in Phonetics and Phonology

The congress served as an eye-opening experience that showcased the incredible diversity and depth of current research in phonetics and phonology. With hundreds of insightful studies, the event drew a roadmap for the future of these fields. While each study was a piece of a larger puzzle, the six keynote lectures stood out as beacons guiding the way forward.

Technological Advancements and Precision

Research in phonetics and phonology cannot stand alone; it requires the support of powerful tools to quantify sound features and visualize articulatory processes. Over the past few decades, these research tools have continually evolved, and numerous researchers have actively applied state-of-the-art technology in their studies. John Esling’s focus on the larynx as an articulator hinted at the importance of advanced imaging techniques, opening new avenues for understanding language development and linguistic diversity. Similarly, Paul Boersma’s discussion about the future of Praat emphasized how technology will revolutionize phonetic and phonological models. The convergence between these talks suggests a future where technology plays an increasingly central role in refining our analyses and providing greater computational power for simulating the nuances of speech.

Interdisciplinary Synergies

As the landscape of research in phonetics and phonology broadens, the call for multidisciplinary perspectives becomes increasingly urgent. Ravignani Andrea and Stuart-Smith Jane both underscored the importance of multidisciplinary approaches. While Andrea seeks to combine ethology, psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral ecology to explore the origins of vocal rhythmicity, Stuart-Smith envisions a future where sociophonetic and social-articulatory data deepen our understanding of speech patterns related to identity, social class, and dialect. The common thread here is the necessity for interdisciplinary collaboration to answer complex questions that cannot be addressed by any single field alone.

Embracing Social Responsibility 

Perhaps the most poignant insights came from talks focusing on the social aspects of research. Titia Benders emphasized the crucial need for expanding child language acquisition research to lesser-studied languages, not only to understand their unique phonological elements but also to develop inclusive research methods. Pavel Trofimovich, on the other hand, urged for a socially responsible approach to second-language speech research, one that balances academic rigor with meaningful social impact. These talks collectively call for a future where research is not just theoretically robust but also socially responsible, reaching communities and languages that have been traditionally underrepresented.

Together, the keynotes painted a vibrant picture of a future that is technologically advanced, inherently interdisciplinary, and deeply rooted in social responsibility. It is clear that the next wave of research in phonetics and phonology will be as diverse and dynamic as the voices that make up human language itself.


The insights gained from this year’s congress serve as a valuable roadmap for the direction of phonetic and phonological research, areas that are central to the mission of our research group. From the pivotal role of technology in advancing research methodologies to the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and social responsibility, the keynotes and studies presented offer a multifaceted view of the field’s future. As our group continues to explore new avenues of research, we are invigorated by the wealth of possibilities that these emerging trends present. They not only affirm the work we are currently undertaking but also challenge us to think about how we can contribute to these evolving dialogues in meaningful ways. Thank you for following along with our coverage of the congress, and stay tuned for upcoming research projects that will reflect these dynamic shifts in the field.

More Photos

ICPhS 2023 Attendance

We are pleased to announce that the research of seven of our group members has been accepted for presentation at the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS) 2023 in Prague. This is a great achievement for our research team and reflects the hard work and dedication of our members.

Rory Turnbull’s research on: The phonological network properties of nonwords and their impact on learnability has been assigned to the 26th session on Phonetic Psycholinguistics. Fengting Du‘s research on: Rapid speech adaptation and its persistence over time by non-standard and non-native listeners has also been assigned to the 1st session on Speech Perception. Yanyu Li‘s research on: Incremental cue training and its impact on lexical tone learning by non-tonal listeners has also been assigned to the 1st session on Speech Perception.

In addition to these oral presentations, Niamh Kelly‘s research on the analysis of the effects of stress on phonetic realisation will be presented as a poster. Cong Zhang and her colleagues (Ricardo Napoleão de Souza, Tina Bögel, Catherine Lai, Alice Turk) will present their research on Language redundancy effects on f0: A preliminary controlled study as a poster presentation. Abdulrahman Dallak will present a study that he coauthored together with his supervisors (Jalal Al-Tamimi, Ghada Khattab) and their research is: Obstruent voicing and laryngeal feature in Arabic. Finally, the title of Andreas Krug‘s poster will be: The effects of accent familiarity on narrative recall in noise.

All the accepted research papers have received positive and constructive comments from the reviewers, demonstrating the high quality of research being conducted by our group. We are proud of our members’ achievements and their contributions to the field of phonetics and speech science.

We are excited to attend the ICPhS 2023 conference in August and look forward to meeting other researchers who share our interests and passion for this field. We wish all our group members the best of luck in their presentations and are confident that they will represent our research team with distinction.

Three-minute thesis final

Date: 16th June, 16:00 – 18:00 
Location: Baddiley Clark Seminar Room
Book Drinks reception and canapés from 16:00  Presentations will begin at 17:00

The finals of the 3-minute thesis are taking place on the 16th of June. One of our members, Carol-Ann McConnellogue, has made it to the final. Carol-Ann is developing an individualised speech therapy programme for children with cerebral palsy and is doing her PhD jointly with ECLS and FMS.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition asks doctoral students to explain their research in just three minutes using only one slide. The explanation should be easily understood by a non-specialist. Originally developed by the University of Queensland, Australia it has been taken up by Universities across the world. The competition offers training then the opportunity to compete in a University final in front of the public. The winner of this final will go forward to compete in the national Vitae 3MT competition in September.

It’s a great opportunity to listen to students from different disciplines talk about their PhD topics in a succinct and non-technical way.

Melissa Baese-Berk’s Talk

Date: 06/12/2021

Prof. Melissa and her colleagues and students are constantly productive in the research of speech processing as well as accent perception and adaptation. In her talk, she walked us through their new work on the adaptation to unfamiliar speech and the perception of non-native speech (see Cheng et al., 2021). 

The main examining issues in their studies include:

  1. The difficulties in communication brought about by linguistics properties of non-native speech, language background of talkers and listeners, and certain cognitive factors (McLaughlin, Baese-Berk, Bent, Borrie & Van Engen 2018)
  2. The conditions under which accent general adaptation might occur (Afghani, Baese-Berk & Waddell, under review at the time when the talk happened)

The main results found by them are:

  1. Listeners may make the most of different resources to facilitate their speech processing; some cognitive factors, like vocabulary and working memory, correlate with listening challenges; the noises from the environment can degrade rhythm perception (McLaughlin et al., 2018).
  2. Incentives may be an answer for a better performance in speech processing, and listeners incentivised can start processing better and learn more quickly than those who are not (Afghani, Baese-Berk, & Waddell, under review at the time of the talk).

Speech perception is more difficult when it is:

  • Dysarthric speech
  • Speech-in-noise
  • Time-compressed speech
  • Synthetic speech

However, practice listening in these conditions may improve speech processing for listeners.

The issues to be looked at next:

  1. The role of memory in comprehension
  2. The similarities / difference between the adaptation to a talker and to an accent
  3. The interaction between adaptation and physical and linguistics context

Reflections from our Research Group:

  • This is a very relevant topic to what is currently being discussed in our research group around accent and social justice. Our group is hosting an event in Spring 2022 which will discuss some of the topics addressed. 
  • It directed us to other literature surrounding the topic.
  • A good way to network with others interested in the topic.
  • I found it very interesting that incentivising participants can make a significant difference in how they process speech.

Melissa’s Twitter: @uospplab 

19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences – Caitlin Halfacre

Post originally appeared on the PhilSoc Blog

In August 2019, I was supported by a PhilSoc travel bursary to attend the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, to present a poster. The conference was in Melbourne, hosted by The Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association and had 422 oral presentations and 397 poster presentations. The poster I presented was based on my MA and was also included in the Congress proceedings papers. My title was North-South Dividers in privately educated speakers: a sociolinguistic study of Received Pronunciation using the foot-strut and trap-bath distinctions in the North East and South East of England.

There is a model of accent variation in England that demonstrates the interactions between regional variation and variation based on social class. The high level of regional variation found in working class speakers seems to reduce going up the socio-economic spectrum, see, with the top of the triangle forming the accent called Received Pronunciation (RP – popularly known as BBC English). However, this model has not been updated for almost 40 years. My research involves recording speakers from different regions whose socio-economic status would place them near the top of this triangle and investigating a variety of accent features that would general display regional variation.

The paper I presented discussed what are known as the FOOT-STRUT and TRAP-BATH splits, descriptions of what vowels speaker uses. The FOOT-STRUT split is whether the two words (and those in the same sets) rhyme or not, and the TRAP-BATH split is whether words like bath have the same vowel as TRAP, generally found in the North, or the same vowel as PALM, generally found in the South. In 10 privately educated speakers from the North East and South East I found that they all behaved the same as each other in the FOOT-STRUT split, demonstrating that this feature acts in a non-regional manner. However, regarding the TRAP-BATH split, I found that the speakers reflected the patterns found in their local region. This is likely due to the social salience of the feature; non-linguists have a strong awareness of how people in different regions pronounce words in the BATH set (e.g. glass, path, mast) and see it as a regional identity marker.

Presenting this poster gave me the opportunity to gain feedback on both my methods and results, invaluable information for data collection for my PhD. I also was able to meet and discuss my findings with leading researchers in the field, whose work has greatly influenced mine. Including the researcher who illustrated the above model, and another who is the only other person currently publishing sociophonetic research on RP.

I would like to thank PhilSoc for awarding me the travel bursary, I used it to supplement the funds my department were able to give in order to make up the required amount. This congress only happens once every four years and I could have missed out on the opportunity to attend without their support.

My poster and proceedings paper can be found on my website.

Phonetics and Phonology on tour… #BAAP2018

On 12-14th April 2018 a number of us from the Phonetics and Phonology Research Group went to the BAAP 2018 Colloquium at the University of Kent. We had 5 posters (Dan, Wael, Hajar, Hana, Nief) and 3 talks (Jalal & Ghada, Jalal, Ourooba) over the 3 days, and also learnt a lot and met some fascinating people, all in the beautiful setting of the historic cathedral city of Canterbury (I’m completely biased, it’s my hometown).

Twitter was very active in the 3 days and I’ve created a ‘Moment’ which documents some highlights. Take a look at the link below.

Particular congratulations should go to Ghada and Jalal, who won the Peter Ladefoged Prize, for the work that best captures the spirit of the work of the late Peter Ladefoged.