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Review of  The Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology

Reviewer: Phoebe M. S. Lin
Book Title: The Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology
Book Author: Abigail C. Cohn Cécile Fougeron Marie K. Huffman
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Cognitive Science
Issue Number: 23.3617

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EDITORS: Abigail C. Cohn, Cécile Fougeron and Marie K. Huffman
TITLE: The Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology
SERIES TITLE: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2012

Phoebe M.S. Lin, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City
University of Hong Kong

Cohn, Fougeron and Huffman’s ‘Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology’ provides
a comprehensive overview of laboratory phonology, an approach that first began
to gain explicit recognition in 1987 in close association with the biennial
conference of the same name (known as LabPhon). The volume consists of 22 papers
in 5 parts: I: Introduction (Chapters 1-3), II: Nature and Types of Variation:
Their Interpretation within a Laboratory Phonology Perspective (Chapters 4-7),
III: Multidimensional Representations of Knowledge of Sound Structure (Chapters
8-13), IV: Integrating Different Perspectives: Insights from Production,
Perception and Acquisition (Chapters 14-16) and V: Methodologies and Resources
(Chapters 17-22).

Chapter 1, ‘Introduction’ by Abigail C. Cohn, Cécile Fougeron and Marie K.
Huffman, sets the scene by providing the background and a brief history of
laboratory phonology before introducing the book’s organisation. Beginning with
the first LabPhon conference at Ohio State University, laboratory phonology has
sought to advance our understanding of human speech by situating it in the wider
context of the human cognitive and biological systems. As a multidisciplinary
approach to human speech research, it draws on theories and methods from a
diverse range of experimentally-oriented fields, including phonetics,
sociolinguistics, language acquisition, speech science and psycholinguistics.
The book is designed to illustrate key topics, methods and outcomes in the field.

Chapter 2, ‘Introduction, Papers in Laboratory Phonology I: Between the Grammar
and Physics of Speech’ by Mary E. Beckman and John Kingston, is a reprint (with
re-editing) of the authors’ (1990) introduction to the proceedings of the first
LabPhon conference. The paper lays out the authors’ vision for laboratory
phonology and discusses how the then budding field offers the opportunity to
overcome the unnecessary division of labour between phonetics and phonology.

Chapter 3, ‘Conceptual Foundations of Phonology as a Laboratory Science’ by
Janet B. Pierrehumbert, Mary E. Beckman and D. Robert Ladd, is a reprint of a
2000 book chapter. To clarify the position of laboratory phonology, the chapter
draws on recent work in the philosophy of science regarding the hallmarks of
successful scientific communities. Those present in the field of laboratory
phonology include population size (i.e. the number of member in the field) and
the diversity of viewpoints of the members, the existence of auxiliary theories,
the maintenance of a common vocabulary and the use of mathematics to make
precise theoretical predictions. The chapter ends with a discussion of
fundamental issues, including discrete/continuous formalism, categoriality and

Chapter 4, ‘Speaker-Related Variation -- Sociophonetic Factors’ by Gerard
Docherty and Norma Mendoza-Denton, bridges the gap between sociophonetics and
laboratory phonology by addressing their differences in terms of frame of
reference, terminology and analytic methodology. Despite the increasing
convergence of the two areas, it is important to get them to--in the authors’
words--‘speak the same language’. The paper highlights the ways in which
sociophonetics and laboratory phonology may be mutually beneficial and argues
that any comprehensive account of speech processing and representation should
factor in social-indexical components, such as an individual’s previous
linguistic experience in the speech community, his/her self-identity, and
his/her identity in relation to the audience in the immediate communicative
context. In this regard, the exemplar approach to phonological representation
shows promise as a comprehensive framework that brings together sociophonetics
and laboratory phonology and adequately factors in the social-indexical aspect.

Chapter 5, ‘Integrating Variation in Phonological Analysis’, argues that an
adequate model of phonological grammar should give a full account of variation
instead of relegating it to the background. The first half of the chapter by
Andries W. Coetzee points out that phonological variation, whether it is
gradient or discrete, is the result of multiple factors. These factors can be
grammatical (e.g., the following phonological context) or non-grammatical (e.g.,
the age of the speaker and lexical frequency). The second half by Arto Anttila
demonstrates how variability can be accounted for using a model based on
Optimality Theory. The cases of English t/d deletion and Finnish word stress
illustrate the proposed model.

Chapter 6, ‘Message-Related Variation’, discusses segmental and tonal
variations. In the first half, Mirjam Ernestus reviews the different models that
have been proposed to account for the production and comprehension of
pronunciation variants involving assimilation and reduction (e.g., Articulatory
Phonology, the exemplar-based model and the Underspecification Theory). In the
second half, Yiya Chen examines tonal co-articulation across languages with
particular focus on languages that have lexical tones (e.g., Sinitic languages).
The idea that emerges from Chen’s review of earlier work is that the way focus
is realised through pitch is similar whether it is a language with lexical tones
(e.g., Mandarin Chinese) or a language without (e.g., English): the pitch range
of the focused item is expanded, while that of the post-focus items is
compressed and lowered and that of the pre-focus items remains neutral.

Chapter 7, ‘System-Related Variation’ by Philip Hoole, Barbara Kühnert and
Marianne Pouplier, explores the ways in which the biomechanics of the speech
organs contribute to variations in the acoustics of segments. Through examining
the cases of velar stops and intrinsic f0 effects on vowel height and consonant
voicing, it becomes clear that system-related variation is delicate and complex
in nature. The difficulty with investigating system-related variation is due to
the lack of comprehensive data on the dynamic actions of the speech organs in
speech production as well as the challenges in separating the contributions of
variance of the higher-level control structures and the executing system.

Chapter 8, ‘Lexical Representations’, presents four different perspectives on
the dynamics of lexical representation. Based on the observation that speech
perception is not hindered by the great surface variation in the phonetic
realisation of words, the first section by Adam Albright examines how much
phonological information is stored in the mental lexicon. As Albright notes,
researchers hold very different views about the need to include predictable or
redundant phonetic specifications in lexical representations and the sufficiency
of the phonological grammar in handling surface variation of phonetic
realisations. The second section by Aditi Lahiri presents a view of lexical
representation built upon the notion of a Featurally Underspecified Lexicon
(FUL). She offers a brief description of FUL and a demonstration of how FUL
operates from the extraction of features in the speech signal to the successful
recognition of words. The third section by Sarah Hawkins challenges the
existence of a mental lexicon and the status of the word as a privileged
linguistic and meaning unit, and proposes an alternative speech processing model
based on domain-general perceptual mechanisms. The final section by Janet B.
Pierrehumbert considers the dynamic relationship between the lexical systems of
individuals and the lexical systems of the community with a particular focus on
the factors that influence the rise and fall of (new) words in the community
lexicon (e.g., a word’s frequency of use and some social factors).

Chapter 9, ‘Phonological Elements’, covers distinctive features, contrastive
tone and a model of phonological category learning. The first section on
distinctive features by Jeff Mielke deals with the typology of sound patterns
with a particular focus on human cognition. According to Mielke, cognitive
biases can influence the typology of sound patterns in a complex manner, and the
mechanism of this influence needs to be accounted for. The second section by
Elizabeth C. Zsiga addresses various questions pertaining to contrastive tone,
including its nature, representation and realisation, by drawing on different
laboratory approaches (e.g., acoustic measurement of f0 patterns, perception and
articulatory studies and modelling). The final section by Paul Boersma presents
a model of category learning, including its characteristics and how it compares
with similar models. The model is an extension of the Boersma (1998) model and
involves computer simulations of a learning algorithm developed based on
Optimality Theory.

Chapter 10, ‘Organisation of Phonological Elements’, presents three approaches
to the organisation of phonological elements. The first section by Adamantios
Gafos and Louis Goldstein discusses the organisation of phonological elements
from the perspective of Articulatory Phonology, and explains how the construct
of speech gesture may explain various phonological phenomena, including syllable
structure. The second section by Marie-Hélène Côté argues for the
psycholinguistic reality of the syllable as a phonological unit in phonological
processes, production and perception studies and statistical analyses of the
lexicon. The final section by Alice Turk provides an account of durational
variability associated with prosodic organisation, including the use of segment
or syllable lengthening to signal prominence and the use of pause and initial
lengthening to signal prosodic boundaries. The author also considers
Articulatory Phonology to be a powerful theory because it provides different
ways of modelling durational variability and its complex interactions with other
layers of the prosodic hierarchy.

Chapter 11, ‘Prosodic Representations’, explores the nature of prosodic
representations from the perspective of the autosegmental-metrical (AM) model of
intonational phonology. The first section by Sónia Frota shows that it is
possible to integrate three different views of prosodic structure (i.e.,
rule-based structure, intonation-based structure and prominence-based structure)
and raises issues of prosodic constituents and levels of phrasing. The second
section by Amalia Arvaniti reviews the fundamental principles of the AM approach
to intonation, in which prosodic constituents and levels of phrasing are key.
The final section by Mariapaola D’Imperio addresses issues pertaining to tonal
alignment (i.e., how target tones are temporally coordinated or synchronized
with prosodic units and their constituents), including its variability and
language specificity.

Chapter 12, ‘Phonological Representations in Language Acquisition: Climbing the
Ladder of Abstraction’ by Benjamin Munson, Jan Edwards and Mary E. Beckman,
discusses the progressive development of phonological representations in first
language learners. From before birth to 12 years of age, phonological
representations constantly change and grow in terms of the level of abstraction.
Language specificity takes shape before a child turns 1. While a child’s
perception of speech segments, language input and early speech production all
play a part in the dynamic changes of phonological representations in the brain,
the researchers particularly note the interdependence between vocabulary size
and phonological representations. In other words, a child’s vocabulary size
grows with his/her speech perception ability and the increase in vocabulary size
further enhances speech perception ability. This knowledge and discernment of
speech segments is derived from multiple factors, including the segments’
articulation and acoustics, and their functions in the mental lexicon and
socially situated communication.

Chapter 13, ‘Changes in Representations’, examines the link between synchronic
variation and diachronic language change from different approaches. The first
section by Ioana Chitoran presents an overview of the type of changes (e.g.,
listener-perceived versus speaker-produced variation) and explains the
relationship between synchronic variation and diachronic change using the
concept of phonologisation, exemplified by the transition from phonetic
variation to phonological variation in Hyman’s (1976) model. The second section
by Jonathan Harrington focuses on addressing why languages and varieties across
the world appear to follow similar paths of diachronic change despite ostensibly
random phonetic variation. The chapter points to the significance of unwitting
imitation of speech behaviours among interlocutors in propagating diachronic
change. The final section by Robert Kirchner offers an exemplar theory-based
account of language change. The Phonological Exemplar-Based Learning System
(PEBLS) is presented as a solution to a specific problem with generating a
composite output from a collection of unique, variable-length signals.

Chapter 14, ‘Insights from Perception and Comprehension’, reviews research on
speech category learning and the mapping of the input speech signal to
phonological representations in the speech perception process. The first half of
the chapter by Lori L. Holt reviews key research evidence pertaining to native
and non-native speech category learning by infants, children and adults (as well
as animals) with the aim of isolating the factors of speech category learning.
The second half by Noél Nguyen examines theories that attempt to explain the
mechanism of spoken word recognition. According to Nguyen, the Featurally
Underspecified Lexicon model (also referred to as the abstractionist model) and
the exemplar-based model differ in their views of the role of context and the
relevance of fine phonetic detail in speech perception. However, there are also
recent models that aim to bridge the gap between the abstractionist and the
exemplar-based models (e.g., Tuller et al., 1994; Tuller, 2004).

Chapter 15, ‘Emergent Information Level Coupling between Perception and
Production’ by Bob McMurray and Ashley Farris-Trimble, argues that
perception-production coupling emerges as a by-product of
distributional/statistical learning, part of the general learning mechanism. To
illustrate the underpinnings of this coupling, the authors discuss three cases
(i.e., interactive spread activation, developmental mechanisms and the
identification of categories in the presence of variability in the input). They
conclude that perception results in a probabilistic representation, which is
fundamental in accounting for the link between perception and production.

Chapter 16, ‘Insights from Acquisition and Learning’, reviews work on
phonological development in early first language acquisition, bilingualism,
multilingualism and second language acquisition. The first section by Katherine
Demuth and Jae Yung Song presents an overview of factors that influence
within-speaker variability in first language acquisition, including syllable and
prosodic word structures, children’s articulatory control and the phonotactic
complexity and position of the target items in the utterance. The second section
by Paola Escudero brings together previous empirical research findings in order
to pin down the various language processing difficulties facing sequential and
simultaneous bilinguals and multilinguals. For instance, simultaneous bilinguals
(but not sequential bilinguals) can perform like monolingual listeners when
perceiving vowels and consonants in behavioural speech perception studies (but
not in studies that use electroencephalography). The final section by Rajka
Smiljanic outlines key research questions in second language speech perception
and production research. These key questions include the phonetic effect that L2
exhibits on the L1 and the extent to which the absence of a specific phonetic
contrast in L1 may lead to difficulties in perceiving and producing the same
contrast present in the inventory of the L2.

Chapter 17, ‘Corpora, Databases, and Internet Resources’, focuses on the issue
of data sources in phonetics and phonology research. The first section by
Jennifer Cole and Mark Hasegawa-Johnson focuses on corpus phonology. After
introducing the various uses of speech corpora in phonological research, they
discuss practical issues, including how to choose a corpus and how to transcribe
a corpus prosodically and phonetically. The second section by Dan Loehr and
Linda Van Guilder examines the uses of the internet as a source of data. The
discussion has two parts: a list of phonological databases and resources that
are available on the internet, and points to note when conducting phonological
experiments via the internet. The third section by Henning Reetz introduces
techniques in speech manipulation, speech synthesis and forced alignment (i.e.,
the forced mapping of each phone in a word on some portion of its acoustic
signal). The final section by Stefan A. Frisch considers the use of lexical
corpora in studies of language phonology and concentrates on the opportunities
lexical corpora offer in the analysis of the distribution, frequency and
probability of phonological patterns.

Chapter 18, ‘Articulatory Analysis and Acoustic Modeling’, describes the theory
of and research methods for articulatory, acoustic and aerodynamic analysis of
speech. The first section by Khalil Iskarous critically reviews four theories
that attempt to deductively explain the physical sources of distinctive features
and the contrastive systems of the world’s languages (Quantal Theory, Theory of
Adaptive Dispersion, Dispersion-Focalisation Theory and the Distinctive Region
Model). The second section by Lisa Davidson discusses issues pertaining to the
use of ultrasound as a tool for speech research, including the advantages,
practical operation and methodological considerations. The third section by
Helen M. Hanson reviews methods used to investigate laryngeal function (e.g.,
fiberscopy, photoglottography and electroglottography) and aerodynamic
properties of speech (e.g., pneumotachography, plethysmography and tracheal
puncture). The final section by Christine H. Shadle explores the acoustics and
aerodynamics of fricatives with particular focus on recording, measurement and
analysis techniques.

Chapter 19, ‘Prosodic Analysis’, surveys research methods in prosodic research.
The first section by Pilar Prieto introduces the concepts and uses of a range of
experimental methods and paradigms, such as Categorical Perception (CP), the
Gating paradigm, Priming, eye-tracking, Event Related Potentials (ERPs) and
functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). The second section by Brechtje
Post and Francis Nolan considers issues of research design and data collection,
including qualitative versus quantitative methods and naturalistic versus
elicited data. These issues are discussed with reference to three speech corpora
designed for prosody research, including the Romance Languages Database (RLD),
the Spontal project and the APriL project.

Chapter 20, ‘Encoding, Decoding, and Acquisition’, introduces experimental
methods used to study online processing of speech. The first section by Jessica
Maye discusses experimental methods (e.g., tracking of pre-natal infant heart
rate, high-amplitude sucking, looking time and head-turn response) and paradigms
(i.e., habituation, preference and conditioned response) for testing infants’
phonetic reception. The second section by Niels O. Schiller focuses on methods
for investigating phonological encoding in speech production. The methods are
divided into two types: behavioural methods (e.g., reaction time, implicit and
explicit priming and the picture-word interference paradigm) and neurocognitive
methods (particularly electroencephalography). The third section by Paul Iverson
introduces methods for investigating phonetic perception in adults, including
measurements of categorisation (such as identification tasks and goodness-rating
tasks) and measurements of perceptual sensitivity (such as category
discrimination, judgements and multidimensional scaling). The fourth section by
Shari R. Speer examines the advantages and applications of eye-tracking in
speech research and the practical issues concerning its use in laboratory
phonology. The final section by William Idsardi and David Poeppel reviews a
range of neuroimaging techniques (e.g., electroencephalography,
magnetoencephalography, fMRI) and offers advice on the practical operation of
electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography for laboratory phonology.

Chapter 21, ‘Experimental Design and Data Collection’, discusses issues of
research design and methods in sociophonetics. The first section by James M.
Scobbie and Jane Stuart-Smith raises awareness about the need to incorporate
socially-structured pools of participants in the design of laboratory phonology
studies. In Stuart-Smith’s research into Glasgow English, for instance, instead
of taking a random sample of Glaswegian participants, care was taken to balance
the number of samples taken from each gender, age and social class. The second
section by Natasha Warner presents methods for studying spontaneous speech and
highlights the usefulness of speech corpora as a source of spontaneous speech
data. The final section by Paul Warren and Jennifer Hay examines how laboratory
phonology techniques can be brought into sociolinguistics to widen the scope of
its investigations, data types and data analysis.

Chapter 22, ‘Statistical Analyses’, presents techniques that can be used in
speech research. The first section by John Kingston uses two case studies using
linear models of continuous dependent variables and mixed-effects models of
ordinal dependent variables. The second section by Harald Baayen focuses on
mixed-effects models and argues for their usefulness in revealing the structure
of quantitative data. The final section by Cynthia G. Clopper introduces
clustering, multidimensional scaling and factor analysis as methods that are
useful in visualising and interpreting the relationships between variables in
high-dimensional spaces.

‘The Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology’ aims to serve as a guide to the
philosophy, workings and findings of the laboratory phonology approach. It
achieves this goal by bringing together leaders in the field to provide
state-of-the-art reviews of how laboratory phonology has influenced research in
their specialist areas.

Laboratory phonology as an approach to phonetics and phonology emphasizes,
amongst other things, experimentation and the use of actual data to support
claims and arguments. Its applicability is virtually unlimited, as the papers
here make clear. Despite the wide coverage of topics of laboratory phonology,
some key concerns of the approach emerge in the Handbook. The concerns relate
particularly to the cognition and processing of sounds, such as the
representation of sounds in the mental lexicon, the mapping of input sounds with
the representation in word recognition, development of phonological knowledge in
infants and experimental techniques for testing online language processing.
Other recurrent themes include sociophonetic research and the use of spoken
corpora in phonology research.

While the breadth of coverage and the depth of knowledge are clear strengths of
the book, a difficulty I encountered concerns the organisation. Most chapters
are divided into separate sections written by specialists. Although the
individual sections are well-written, the connection between sections is not
always clear. In the absence of a chapter conclusion or summary, the overall
message of the chapter as a whole is often unclear.

The book is written for phoneticians, phonologists, speech scientists and
sociolinguists in order to raise awareness of the importance of experimentation.
For the specialist, this Handbook is a useful resource as it offers reviews and
summaries of the latest research by leaders in the field of phonetics and
phonology, though it might be less accessible for a general linguistic audience.
It is a good starting point for any researcher who needs an update on the
specific research questions covered.

Boersma, P. (1998). Functional phonology: formalizing the interactions between
articulatory and perceptual drives. The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.

Hyman, L. (1976). Phonologization. In A. Juilland (ed.), Linguistic studies
presented to Joseph H. Greenberg (pp. 407-418). Saratoga: Anma Libri.

Tuller, B. (2004). Categorization and learning in speech perception as dynamical
processes. In M. A. Riley and G. C. Van Orden (eds.), Tutorials in contemporary
nonlinear methods for the behavioral sciences. National Science Foundation.

Tuller, B., Case, P., Ding, M. and Kelso, J. A. S. (1994). The nonlinear
dynamics of speech categorization. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human
Perception and Performance, 20, 3-16.

Phoebe M. S. Lin is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics of City University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on the acquisition, processing and use of idiomatic language by first and foreign language learners. She publishes on corpus linguistics, applied linguistics, English vocabulary and second language acquisition. She has a forthcoming monograph on the prosody of formulaic language in spontaneous English spoken discourse.

Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9780199575039
Pages: 896
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