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Thursday 20 September 2018, 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Dr Davide Pigoli (King's College London), "The statistical analysis of acoustic phonetic data: exploring differences between spoken Romance languages"
Exploring phonetic changes between languages is relevant to understand their history and geographical spread. While many studies have considered differences in textual form or in phonetic transcription, it is somewhat more difficult to analyse speech recordings in this manner, although this is usually the dominant mode of transmission of language changes. Here, we propose a novel approach to explore phonetic changes, using log-spectrograms of speech recordings. After pre-processing the data to remove inherent individual differences, we identify time and frequency covariance functions as a feature of the language; in contrast, the mean depends mostly on the word that has been uttered. We use these means and covariances to postulate paths between languages, and we illustrate some preliminary results obtained when the model is applied to recordings of speakers of selected Romance languages. This is part of a joint work with P.Z. Hadjipantelis, J.S. Coleman and J.A.D. Aston.