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Phonetics and Phonology

We are interested in and have expertise in experimental phonetics, adult and child phonology, socio-phonetics and multilingualism.

We are a varied group of researchers interested in all aspects of speech production, perception and learning. We are part of the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Research Groups and our members belong to:

The discipline of phonetics and phonology is evolving rapidly. This is due to theoretical advances in conceptualising how we represent speech. Technological advances in measuring and analysing speech also play a part.

Our researchers are working at the forefront of these advances. They adopt inter-disciplinary approaches to studying:

  • speech processing
  • phonological development
  • language variation and change

The outcome is a laboratory approach to phonology. It scrutinises the traditional division between phonetics and phonology.

Our themes

Arabic Phonetics and Phonology

Our members have been addressing major gaps in the Phonetics and Phonology of various Arabic dialects. They use instrumental and articulatory techniques. We have covered areas which include:

  • gemination
  • nasalisation
  • pharyngeal and guttural realisation and representation
  • static and dynamic aspects of vowel production
  • voicing/laryngeal contrasts
  • Bilingual and second language phonology

Bilingual and second language phonology

We research the acquisition of phonetics and phonology by monolingual and bilingual children. We put particular emphasis on the influence of the social context in which acquisition takes place.

We have also explored second language acquisition of various phonetic and phonological features. We also look at Arabic and German too.

An area we contribute to is the influence of orthography on second language phonological representation. This is an understudied area of research that has recently attracted a lot of attention.


We have excellent expertise in speech rhythm and its role in the perception and production of speech. We look at:

  • areas of acquisition
  • word segmentation
  • communicative function
  • timing

We use state-of-the-art techniques to investigate representations of rhythm, intonation and emotion in the brain.

Sociolinguistics and Language Variation and Change

Our research areas include:

  • dialectology
  • language place and identity
  • sociolinguistic factors

They influence variation in speech and people’s perception of it. We have looked at dialectal variation in various dialects of Arabic, French and English.

We also look at the acquisition of socio-phonetic variation, and the perception of native and non-native accents and dialects.