In language teaching we often restrict our attention to sounds, words, sentences, texts and dialogue, and for good reason: these properties of language and speech bear the greatest functional load in most communication situations. The music of speech, speech prosody, is often neglected, except for basic exercises on the rhythm of words, and a few hints on rising tone for questions and falling tone for statements, with 'tag questions' and their pragmatic complexities being a favourite. Yet the music of speech, along with gesture, is the first mode of communication learned by infants, a mode of communication which we share with our nearest ancestors in the evolution of speech, and a subtle accompaniment to any spoken dialogue. After an outline of these aspects of the music of speech, the focus in this talk will be on modern methods of representing and analysing the rhythms and melodies of speech, and will report, in particular, on the role of these factors in characterising L2 spoken fluency, and on a study in which a new approach to measuring rhythm was used to quantify degrees of fluency in the L2 English speech of Cantonese L1 speakers.

Professor Dafydd Gibbon

Dafydd Gibbon is emeritus professor of linguistics at Bielefeld University, and currently visiting professor at Jinan University, Guangzhou, China. His research and publications are mainly in the computational analysis of speech prosody, computational lexicography, and in the computational documentation of endangered languages using these methods, for which he has developed online tools. In the field of language technologies, he has co-edited three handbooks on standards for data, methods and resources for developing language and speech systems. For services to language description and documentation in West Africa, he was awarded the distinctions of Officier de l'Ordre du Mérite Ivoirien in Ivory Coast, and the Silver Jubilee Award of the Linguistic Society of Nigeria.

Seminar detail

Date:        Tuesday 13 August 2019

Time:       1:15pm – 2:15pm

Room:     room 209, General Purpose North Building #39A

 

Venue

Room: 
room 209, General Purpose North Building #39A