I just got back a couple of days ago from the 10th International Seminar on Speech Production (ISSP), a conference in Cologne, Germany. I learned a ton, and I was really blown away by how open and friendly everyone was to me, a lowly Master’s student with only a couple of papers to my name. I really felt like I was part of an international community of colleagues.
I presented a paper there, along with Donna Erickson and Caroline Menezes. Using a model by the Japanese phoneticist Osamu Fujimura, we used data on jaw, lip and tongue movement to describe the rhythm of a short phrase. The hope is that this will help us to understand how the movements of the vocal tract (everything from the neck up) relate to the stress, intonation, and rhythm of English.
My MA thesis is going to focus on comparing this data with Japanese data to see how Japanese speakers and English speakers differ.
I also got to hear some great talks from big names in the field. Entrainment, the way people synchronize movements, seems to be a hot topic right now. Fred Cummins (University College Dublin) talked about joint speech, including demonstration chants, choral singing, and those kinds of things. Caroline Palmer (McGill) gave a cool talk on how singers match their posture and beat when singing together or in a round. More relevant to what I’ve been researching, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (MIT) talked about how prosody (rhythm, intonation, stress) factors into how we plan out what we’re going to say before talking.
Of course, I got to do a little sightseeing, too: