Stockholm University’s research in Phonetics is characterized by experimental studies of speech communication spanning over the three typical areas of Phonetic research:

  • Articulatory Phonetics, covering the anatomic and physiologic aspects behind the airstream mechanisms that can be used to create sound sources along the vocal tract and the articulatory activities of the tongue, jaw, lips and nasal cavities,
  • Acoustic Phonetics, addressing the acoustic characteristics of the sound sources and the resonance phenomena created by the different articulatory configurations of the vocal tract,
  • Perceptual Phonetics, studying how speech sounds, which are different from speaker to speaker and affected by room acoustics, background noise, etc., are represented by the auditory system and perceived by the listener.

Due to its strong experimental component, Stockholm University’s Phonetics is has been classified as a Natural Science within the Humanities. High-profile and exciting multidisciplinary experimental research is carried out at the Phonetics Laboratory in order to investigate the fundamental aspects of the speech communication process, in particular by adding to the observations of how speech communication is in different languages and societies questions on how speech communication is possible, how it is learnable and how it may have evolved to be such an amazingly effective means of communication. The main laboratory facilities of the Section of Phonetics include advanced Signal Processing techniques, Eye Tracking cameras, electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), electropalatography (EPG) and an echo-free room. The laboratory’s high technological resources can be used for advanced acoustic measurements of speech sounds produced by speakers of different ages, dialects or under different communication settings as well as for measurements of the electrical activity of muscles during speech, measurements of the jaw, lips and tongue movements and even measurements of neocortical activity during production and/or perception of speech.

The section of Phonetics participates in several international and interdisciplinary projects. Within the CONTACT project, for instance, collaboration with researchers in neurology in Italy, Robotics in Portugal and Developmental Psychology in Sweden, is attempting to endow a humanoid robot with the basic skills to learn to communicate with the outside world in much the same way as an infant. Cognitive models based on experimental studies of language development are now being built into Chico, the robot platform maintained by our colleagues at the VISLAB, Instituto Superior Técnico, IST, Lissabon, Portugal. Read more about CONTACT (BabyBot Project).