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Phonetics Laboratory


The Phonetics Laboratory recently held a four-day Research Area Workshop (RAW) event at St John’s College, Cambridge from 7th March to 10th March 2023. The workshop saw undergraduates, postgraduate students, and researchers affiliated with the Phonetics and Phonology (P&P) Seminar group attend two parts of the workshop: (1) A series of talks presented by PhD students from the Lab; and (2) a Vocal Profile Analysis (VPA) workshop conducted by Professor Paul Foulkes from the University of York.

While the P&P talks focused on speech, the presenters addressed a variety of topics and from diverse perspectives — phonetic and phonological, theoretical and applied, and segmental and prosodic — which provided attendees with a broad range of viewpoints to engage with. To name a few, the topics presented included speech synthesis and intonation, forensic speech science, Mongolic phonetics–phonology interface issues, accent and speech recognition interactions, among others. The P&P group welcomed Professor Foulkes as Guest of Honour in the audience, providing invaluable input on the presenters’ ongoing research projects. The occasion was made particularly special as Professor Foulkes is an alumnus of both the Lab and Churchill College, Cambridge (MA, MPhil, PhD), so it was simultaneously a reunion and enriching educational event.

Just as exciting was the three-day VPA workshop that focused on applying voice quality analysis to real-world voices. Participants at the workshop got the opportunity to listen to and examine the differences between voices using the VPA scheme, taking speech samples from Donald Trump, Rishi Sunak, and other public figures. Professor Foulkes added insights from his forensic-phonetic casework and research experiences, which inoculated the participants to practical challenges facing forensic voice analysts and grounded the workshop with a hands-on angle to bridge the gap between phonetic theory and practice.

This event was made possible through funding support under the Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (TAL) RAW scheme at the Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics (MMLL) Faculty, University of Cambridge.


Daniel D. Lee and Linda Gerlach

Workshop and Event Organisers