Professor Gerard Docherty
Professor of Phonetics & Dean of Research, Innovation & Business Development

Roles and Responsibilities

Professor of Phonetics
Dean of Research, Innovation & Business Development (Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences)

Research Interests

A common strand through all of my research work has been a focus on quantitative acoustic analysis of aspects of speech with a view to enhancing understanding of the nature of phonetic variability and its implications for phonetic theory. In particular, I am interested in determining how the phonetic performance of speakers is shaped by the various dimensions (physical, linguistic, cognitive and social) of spoken communication, with a view to developing theories which account for the systematic properties of speech in its social context. While much of my work has been focused on normal adult speakers, it is also the case that important theoretical insights can be achieved by investigation of the acquisition of speech sound patterning in children and by studying the nature of speech in populations of speakers with impaired speech production, and both of these areas have also had a significant presence in my research activity over the years.

Current Work

I have a number of projects under way or recently completed:

- Ineke Mennen , Felix Schaeffler, and I have recently completed a a project entitled “Cross-language differences in pitch range” funded by the UK Economic & Social Research Council. More details can be found on the project website. Our write-up of the results of this project has been published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and we're preparing a follow-up grant application.

- Christian Langstrof, Paul Foulkes and I have developed a line of experimental work on the perceptual evaluation of sociophonetic variability (reported in our paper at the March 2008 BAAP Colloquium in Sheffield and in a poster at the July 2008 Labphon meeting in Wellington, NZ). We presented a paper on this work at the "Production, Perception, Attitude" Workshop which took place in Leuven (2-3 April 2009), and we have a write-up of this work accepted for publication in Linguistics.

- I'm working with Dom Watt and Carmen Llamas on a project entitled "Linguistic variation and national identities on the Scottish/English border". This project kicked off in January '08 and was funded by ESRC for three years. More details can be found on the project website. I've recently presented some of the results of this project at conferences in Barcelona, Pisa, ChesterFreiburg, and Bolzano. We're in the process of writing papers on the findings of this project. 

- In 2006 I had an all-too-short two-month visit to the Linguistics Department at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand where (as an Erskine Fellow) I worked with and learned a lot from the staff and students based there who are working on sociophonetic variation in NZ English. I was back in Christchurch towards the end of 2010 for a short visit to take part in the NZILBB Launch Workshop.

- Over recent months, I've been working with Celeste Rodriguez Louro and a great group of students at the University of Western Australia setting out to track trajectories of phonological variation and change in the English spoken within metropolitan Perth. Initial fieldwork has been carried out, and the analysis of material obtained to date is under way.

- I'm currently working with Cathi BestJen Hay, Bronwen Evans, Jason Shaw, Jalal Al-Tamimi and Paul Foulkes on an ARC-funded Discovery Project entitled "You came TO DIE?! Perceptual adaptation to regional accents as a new lens on the puzzle of spoken word recognition" (2012-15). The north of England branch of this project is about to begin recording participants speakers from Newcastle and York. The project is based at the MARCS Institute at UWS where I'll be visiting in December prior to a full project meeting at NZILBB in early January.

With my colleagues Ghada Khattab, Isa Buchstaller and Karen Corrigan, I was co-organiser of the 2009 UK Language Variation & Change Conference which we hosted here in Newcastle in September 2009.

Research Roles

From 1999-2007 I was Editor of the Journal of Phonetics, and I am currently an Advisory Editor.

Postgraduate Supervision

I'd be happy to supervise doctoral projects in sociophonetics, descriptive and theoretical phonetics and clinical phonetics.

I currently supervise the following graduate students:
Alison Tickle,
Isao Hara.

My former graduate students are

Anja Lowit-Leuschel,
Fernando Jarabo-Lorenzo,
Paul Carding
Dom Watt,
Shahidi Hamid,
Mirjana Sokolovic-Perovic,
Aslyn Wan,
John Atkinson.