Phonetics at USC studies the articulatory, acoustic, and perceptual properties of speech sounds from a linguistic perspective, both informing and being informed by an understanding of linguistic representations, structures, and processes found in human language. We also have a special interest in speech production from a cognitive science perspective, which seeks to illuminate the connections between speech as human action and the percept of those actions via information in the acoustic signal. Our special areas of research focus on the coordination of speech movements and on dynamic imaging of speech production.
We explore how linguistic structure, including particularly prosodic structure, conditions the spatiotemporal realization of articulatory movement during speaking. This research program investigates the control and coordination of articulation and its relation to grammatical structure within a dynamical systems model of speech production. A specific current aim of work at USC is to understand how speakers modulate the spatiotemporal organization of articulatory gestures as a function of their phrasal positions and to undertake computational modeling of this organization. We also investigate the nature of the relation between articulation and acoustics, especially how the interaction between the two informs the basic units of phonological representation. A great deal of previous work on articulatory-relations has focused on static configurations. We are extending this work into dynamic patterns, and have started to show that various phonological asymmetries are intimately related to dynamical asymmetries in the aarticulatory-acoustic relation.
The USC Phonetics Laboratory is the home of experimental work in speech science within the Linguistics department and is directed by Professor Iskarous. The laboratory serves as a a teaching and research resource, as well as a social center for faculty and students interested in speech research. The laboratory includes a computing area and a physiology area, the latter equipped with a magnetometer for tracking articulatory movement of the tongue and lips during speech. It also has state-of-the-art acoustic, signal processing, and statistical analysis tools. The Phonetics Laboratory seeks to be a flexible resource that can accommodate a wide variety of research projects and work on spoken language in the USC Linguistics department is defined in an ongoing fashion by a group of energetic and interactive students, post-docs, and faculty who bring their experience, creativity, and interests to our many projects.