main research interest is intonational phonology, focussing on the structure
of tonal representations and their phonetic correlates. As part of my
effort to establish the descriptive primitives of intonation theory I
have carried out a number of instrumental and experimental studies on
varieties of Italian, German and English, and more recently on Vietnamese
Kieu Phuong and Marc
Brunelle) and Tashlhiyt Berber (with Rachid
Ridouane and Timo
The latter two languages are particularly challenging, Vietnamese allowing for lexical tones to be obscured by intonational tones in certain contexts, and Tashlhiyt Berber because of its words which often lack sonorant material to bear intonational tones.
One particular aspect of my work is the intonation of questions, in particular yes-no questions, which are notoriously difficult to elicit in a laboratory context. Most recently I have looked at this type of question in varieties of Italian (with Elina Savino) as well as German learners of Italian (with Silvia Dahmen) and in Vietnamese and Tashlhiyt. This work also relates to my methodological interests as to the acquisition of natural data in a controlled setting.
I have been looking to complement my work on intonation by examining the alignment of supralaryngeal gestures with events in the fundamental frequency contour corresponding to intonational tones (with Doris Mücke, Anne Hermes and Henrik Niemann). Under the umbrella of articulatory prosody I have been investigating the effects of information structure (focus-background structure, contrast) and information status (givenness, cognitive activation) on laryngeal and supralaryngeal articulation (with Stefan Baumann, Doris Mücke, Anne Hermes, Johannes Becker and Henrik Niemann).
I am currently collaborating with Ralf
Rummer and Judith
Schweppe (Erfurt) on working memory, in particular the effect of acoustic
and articulatory similarity across words in list recall. We are currently
carrying out a study on embodied cognition.
I have a strong interest in making theoretical insights feed into speech technology, speech pathology and second language acquisition.
Before coming to Cologne, I was a senior lecturer at the Department of Computational Linguistics and Phonetics at Saarland University, where I developed the GToBI system for transcription and labelling of German intonation (with Ralf Benzmüller and Stefan Baumann) and collaborated with other phoneticians, computational linguists and psycholinguists on prosody modelling for speech synthesis (with Marc Schröder at DFKI), and on the effect of prosody on speech processing (with Andrea Weber).
Before that, I worked at University College London in the ESPRIT SAM project where I was responsible for the assessment of speech synthesis systems. I was also involved in supervising the segmental and suprasegmental transcription and labelling of the EUROM speech corpora, and in the development of SAMPA, the computer readable version of the IPA.
I was associate editor of Language and Speech for 11 years (2000-2011).
I am currently associate editor of Journal of Phonetics.