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Comparing pronunciations on the basis of transcriptions and articulography: Martijn Wieling, PhD


18 Sep 2014 13:30
Goodman Cancer Research Centre, Room 501 : CA, 1200 Pine Avenue West
Price: Free


In the first part of the presentation, I will introduce the Pointwise-Mutual-Information-based Levenshtein distance which is able to determine sensitive pronunciation distances and sound segment distances on the basis of transcribed speech (Wieling et al., 2012). I will then apply the PMI-based Levenshtein distance to transcriptions of accented English speech obtained from the Speech Accent Archive (http://accent.gmu.edu) and validate the method by comparing the computational distances to perceptual judgments of hundreds of native American English speakers (Wieling et al., in press).

In the second part of the presentation, I will illustrate how articulography (i.e. measuring the movement of tongue and lips during speech) is useful for comparing pronunciations. To illustrate the method, I will show significant movement differences (obtained using generalized additive modeling) between native English speakers from Canada and German non-native English speakers. In addition, I show some Dutch dialect differences on the basis of articulography, and I will discuss the results of a recent preliminary study (Tomaschek et al., 2013) we conducted in Tübingen showing the surprising effect word frequency has on the articulatory movements associated with the pronunciation of German vowels.

References (all papers are available at http://www.martijnwieling.nl):

  • Fabian Tomaschek, Martijn Wieling, Denis Arnold and Harald Baayen (2013). Word frequency, vowel length and vowel quality in speech production: An EMA study of the importance of experience. Interspeech 2013.
  • Martijn Wieling, Jelke Bloem, Kaitlin Mignella, Mona Timmermeister and John Nerbonne (forthcoming). Automatically measuring the strength of foreign accents in English. Language Dynamics and Change.
  • Martijn Wieling, Eliza Margaretha and John Nerbonne (2012). Inducing a measure of phonetic similarity from pronunciation variation. Journal of Phonetics, 40(2), 307-314.


Martijn Wieling is a postdoctoral fellow working at the University of Groningen (Department of Information Science), analyzing tongue and lip movements of second language learners. The four-year project is funded by a Veni grant (€ 250,000) of the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research. His second affiliation is with the University of Tübingen, where he collaborates with Harald Baayen.

Contact Information

Contact: CRBLM coordinator
Organization: Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music
Office Phone: 514.398.6962
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