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Speech as object data: exploring cross-linguistic changes in Romance languages

Presented by: 
Davide Pigoli
Tuesday 20th March 2018 - 11:30 to 12:30
INI Seminar Room 1
Exploring phonetic change between languages is of particular importance in the understanding of the history and geographical spread of languages. While many studies have considered differences in textual form or in phonetic transcription, it is somewhat more difficult to analyse speech recordings in this manner, although this is usually the dominant mode of transmission. Here, we propose a novel approach to explore phonetic changes, using log-spectrograms of speech recordings. After pre-processing the data to remove inherent individual differences, we identify time and frequency covariance functions as a feature of the language; in contrast, the mean depends mostly on the word that has been uttered. We use these means and covariances to postulate paths between languages, and we illustrate some preliminary results obtained when the model is applied to recordings of speakers of a few Romance languages. This is part of a joint work with P.Z. Hadjipantelis, J.S. Coleman and J.A.D. Aston.
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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons