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Phonetics Laboratory

Experimental phonetics and phonology, prosody, first and second language acquisition, cognitive and neural processing of speech


After completing my PhD Tonal and Phrasal Structures in French Intonation under the supervision of Carlos Gussenhoven and Haike Jacobs in Nijmegen in 2000, I took up my first post-doc position with Francis Nolan and Esther Grabe on the project Intonational Variation in the British Isles (also known as IViE) here in the Phonetics Lab. A second post-doc in Lorraine Tyler's Centre for Speech, Language and the Brain gave me the opportunity to venture into psycholinguistics and neuroimaging. Several short-term teaching and research positions preceded my appointment as Senior Research Associate at the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics. This post was converted to a University Lectureship when the Centre was merged with the Department of Linguistics in 2011.


Research Interests

My research centres on how linguistic systems exploit speech sounds to convey different types of meaning. My focus is primarily on prosody: intonation, accentuation, rhythm, and phrasing. Drawing on a variety of disciplines (phonetics, phonology, psycholinguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and computational linguistics), this research addresses questions like:

  • How do prosodic structures differ cross-linguistically, and how do linguistic systems constrain prosodic structure?
  • What cross-linguistic variation can we expect to observe in the phonetic realisation of prosodic structure?
  • What are the neural and cognitive underpinnings of prosody?
  • How do children acquire the relevant mappings between phonetics, phonology, and other parts of the linguistic system that are at play?
  • What role does prosody play in language learning in early and late bilinguals?

I have also published on: L1 acquisition of segmental properties, speech perception in noise, L2 pronunciation assessment, transcription and methodology for prosodic research, and morphological processing in speech comprehension.

Research grants

For project descriptions, see the listings on current and past research projects tabs at the top of this page.

Project Funding Dates PI/Coordinator
LABEX Empirical foundations of linguistics French ANR (€9M) 2011 - 2020 Christian Puech (PRES Paris Cité)
EF Education First Research Lab for Applied Language Learning SIGNUM International (£1.3M) 2016 - 2021 Dora Alexopolou (TAL)
Hiraeth: An arts outreach programme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Cambridgeshire Arts and Humanities Impact Fund (£7K) 2019 Brechtje Post (TAL)
Developing a large scale online study of L1 and L2 speech perception  Language Sciences Incubator Fund, Isaac Newton Trust (£3K) 2019 Brechtje Post (TAL)

Multilingual early childhood education and care for young refugee children 

ErasmusPlus (€165K) 2016 - 2019 Jeroen Aarssen (Sardes BV, The Netherlands)
Multilingualism for well-being: defining routes to impact among
community language learners
ESRC Impact Acceleration Award (£8K) 2017 - 2018 Napoleon Katsos (TAL)
Neural correlates of intonation  Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme (£9K) 2014 - 2016 Brechtje Post (TAL)

The acquisition of consonant timing: a study in cross-linguistic micro-variation

British Academy & Leverhulme (SG122210) (10K) 2013 - 2016 Elinor Payne (University of Oxford)
English Profile Pronunciation Project Cambridge Assessment (~£7.5K) 2011 - 2015 Brechtje Post (TAL), Evelina Galaczi (Cambridge Assessment)
Interactive Atlas of the European Portuguese Prosody (InAPoP)

Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (PTDC/CLE-LIN/119787/2010) (€103)

2012 - 2015 Sónia Frota (University of Lisbon)
The Education First Cambridge Learner Corpus of English - a data driven approach to second language learning Cambridge Newton Trust, Education First (£180K) 2011 - 2013 Dora Alexopolou (TAL)
Categories and gradience in intonation: Evidence from linguistics and neurobiology ESRC First Grant (RES-061-25-0347) (£352K) 2009 - 2012 Brechtje Post (TAL)
Off-site and internet-based linguistic and executive functions research in bilingual children  Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme (£15K) 2011 - 2012 Napoleon Katsos (TAL)
Sound to Sense

EC Marie Curie Research Training Network (MRTN-CT-2006-035561) (£2.8M)

2007 - 2011 Sarah Hawkins (Linguistics)
A cross-linguistic study of intonational development in young infants and children British Academy (SG51777) (£7K) 2009 - 2010 Brechtje Post (TAL)
Prosody in Grammar French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (€220K) 2006 - 2010 Jean-Marie Marandin (CNRS Paris VII)
The acquisition of intonation in Catalan, Spanish and English Generalitat de Catalunya (Batista i Roca, 2009 PBR 00018) (€12K) 2009 - 2010 Pilar Prieto (ICREA/Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
A transcription system for prosody and phonological modelling  British Academy and the French Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques (£7K) 2006 - 2008 Brechtje Post (TAL)

L1 acquisition of rhythm in Catalan, Spanish and English

Generalitat de Catalunya (Batista i Roca, 2007 PBR 29) (€9K) 2007 - 2008 Pilar Prieto (ICREA/Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
Different phonological structures in prosody? British Academy (SG40478) (£7.5K) 2005 Brechtje Post (TAL)



Key publications: 

Selected recent publications

  • Post, Brechtje and Élisabeth Delais-Roussarie (accepted). L’intonation en français. In A. Abeillé, F. Gadet, and D. Godard (eds.), Grande grammaire du français XIX-5. Paris: Éditions Actes Sud.
  • Post, Brechtje, and Samantha Jones (2020). Similarity and contrast in L1 pronunciation attrition in bilinguals. C. Gabriel, A. Pešková, M. Selig (eds.) Contact, variation, and change in Romance and beyond. Studienreihe Romania (StR), Erich Schmidt, Berlin.
  • Scharenborg, Odette, Sofoklis Kakouros, Fanny Meunier, and Brechtje Post (2019). Cross-linguistic Influences on Sentence Accent Detection in Background Noise. Language and Speech. Sage Online First DOI 10.1177/0023830918819573.
  • Graham, Calbert and Brechtje Post (2019). Constancy and variation in speech: Phonetic realisation and abstraction. Special Issue Phonetica 76 (2-3), 83-234.
  • Post, Brechtje and Elinor Payne (2018).  Speech rhythm in development : What is the child acquiring ? In Prieto, Pilar and Núria Esteve-Gibert (eds.). Prosodic Development in First Language Acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 125-143. DOI : 10.1075/tilar.23.07pos.
  • Leemann, Adrian and Brechtje Post (2017). Multiplicity of cues and functions in prosody. Special Collection Laboratory Phonology 8 (1). E-publication at
  • Avanzi, Mathieu, Anne Catherine Simon, and Brechtje Post (2016). La prosodie du français : accentuation et phrasé. Language Française, 191.
  • Post, Brechtje, Emmanuel Stamatakis, Iwo Bohr, Francis Nolan, and Chris Cummins (2015). Categories and gradience in intonation. An fMRI study. In J. Romero and M. Riera (eds.) The Phonetics/Phonology Interface: Sounds, representations, methodologies. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 259 – 284. DOI: 10.1075/cilt.335-13pos
  • Delais-Roussarie, Élisabeth, Brechtje Post, Mathieu Avanzi, Caroline Buthke, Albert Di Cristo, Ingo Feldhausen, Sun-Ah Jun, Philippe Martin, Trudel Meisenburg, Annie Rialland, Rafèu Sichel-Bazin, and Hi-Yon Yoo (2015). Developing a ToBI system for French. In  Frota, Sonia and Pilar Prieto (eds.) Intonational Variation in Romance. Oxford University Press, 63 – 100.
  • Schmidt, Elaine, and Brechtje Post (2015). The development of prosodic features and their contribution to rhythm production in simultaneous bilinguals. Language and Speech 58(1), 24 - 47. DOI: 10.1177/0023830914565809.
  • Lammertink, Imme, Marisa Casillas, Titia Benders, Brechtje Post and Paula Fikkert (2015). Dutch and English toddlers' use of linguistic cues in predicting upcoming turn transitions. Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences 6 article 495. E-publication. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00495. 


Teaching and Supervisions


I normally teach on Li6 Phonetics and Li16 Psycholinguistics, MPhil Phonetics, and the MPhil Lent term course Experimental Phonetics and Phonology.

I am course contact for Li6 Phonetics and the MPhil Lent term course Experimental Phonetics and Phonology (2020-21).

Research supervision: 

I welcome inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students.

PhD Supervisees

Name Thesis title
Emily Lau Dissecting and Synthesizing Dramatic Affect (co-supervisor Dr Kate Knill, Engineering)
Maddy Rees The effects of individual and contextual factors on the relationship between speech production and perception systems in Spanish/English bilingual speakers (co-supervisor Dr Matt Davis, MRC CBU)
Yibing Shi Tone sandhi across Chinese Wu dialects
Julia Schwarz Separate, Combined or Parallel Routes? An Interdisciplinary Approach to Complex Word Processing (co-supervisor Dr Mirjana Bozic, Experimental Psychology)
Tim Laméris L2 Acquisition of Lexical Tones and the Role of the L1: A Categorical and Neural Approach
Jasper Sim Hong Phonological acquisition of contact varieties of English in simultaneous bilinguals
Yixin Zhang The phonetics and phonology of Mandarin neutral tone (co-supervisor Dr Elaine Schmidt, Cambridge Assessment)
Calbert Graham (2014) Japanese and Spanish L1 adult speakers’ L2 acquisition of English prosody
Aike Li (2014) L2 rhythm development by Mandarin Chinese learners of English
Elaine Schmidt (2014) The acquisition of prosody in Spanish-English bilingual children
Margaret Zellers (2011) Prosodic detail and topic structure in discourse


Other Professional Activities

Other academic appointments

  • Director, Cambridge Language Sciences Interdisciplinary Research Centre, University of Cambridge (since 2020)
  • ERC Remote Referee, European Research Council Executive Agency (since 2015)
  • Member, Standing Committee Phonetics and Phonology in Europe (since 2013)
  • Member, R&D team Centro de Linguística da Universidade de Lisbo (since 2012)
  • Member, ESRC Peer Review College (since 2010)
  • Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge (since 2008)
  • Admissions Tutor for the Arts, Jesus College, Cambridge (2008-2018)
  • Fellow Commoner, Jesus College, Cambridge (2007-2008)
  • Academic visitor, Phonetics Laboratory, University of Oxford (2003-2004)
  • Visiting Lecturer, Department of English and Linguistics, University of Westminster (2003-2004)
  • Visiting research fellow, Max Planck Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Leipzig (2003)
  • Senior Member, Wolfson College, Cambridge (2000-2008)


Professional memberships

Philological Society, ISCA Speech Prosody Special Interest Group (SProSIG), Nederlandse Vereniging voor Fonetische Wetenschappen, British Association of Academic Phoneticians, International Phonetic Association

Professor of Phonetics and Phonology
Co-Director of the Language Sciences Interdisciplinary Research Centre
Fellow of Jesus College