Research in Snowy Fukushima-ken


Today I’m in Aizu, in Fukushima prefecture.


We’re doing more research on articulatory phonetics―particularly how the jaw moves when speaking English and Japanese. I was a guinea pig, along with a Japanese and another American subject. We’ve been at Ian Wilson’s lab, an he’s been a great host.

The data collection is pretty interesting. We tape little blue circles to the subject’s chins and have them wear glasses with a blue circle on the bridge. We film them talking, and later, a computer program will calculate the distance between those two spots and give us pretty graphs. The hope is that this data will tell us more about how jaw movement relates to the rhythm of spoken English and Japanese.

This data is going to be part of the  larger set of projects on jaw movement I’ve been working on with Donna Erickson. The whole idea of looking at jaw movement as a way of describing speech rhythm is kind of her baby, something she’s been working on with Osamu Fujimura and other researchers for decades now. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be involved.

This is also the furthest North that I’ve been in Japan so far. It’s kind of nice to see snow again, to be honest. Good practice for my trip to Boston next week!


English teacher, student of Japanese, and aspiring linguist.

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