Wednesday, October 14, 2020

URSP Student Kyler Buckner Researches Racial Inequality in D.C.’s Housing Crisis

The urban landscape of Washington D.C. is in flux. Municipal policy has consistently delivered displacement by design by prioritizing the interests of white developers at the expense of black and brown communities. However, at the same time there is a viral intolerance building up within the city, asserting not just a right to stay in one’s house as it, but a right to make a home.  My research revolves around one central question: in the wake of rapidly increasing rates of homelessness and expulsion, what alternative ways to design the city and generate home are taken up by communities in their fight against displacement?

Drawing on interviews I did with members of EmpowerDC (an anti-displacement NGO) as well as my own experience volunteering with them, I found there is radical potential for the city to plan itself, rather than be planned by. In the wake of a disastrous response to COVID-19 both federally and locally, EmpowerDC expanded mutual aid projects to provide hot meals, groceries, fresh greens, hand sanitizer, masks, and flowers to anyone who needs it—no questions asked. At a time where access to these resources can be a matter of life or death, how can these events be seen as a practice of home-making, of democratic planning by, for, and of the city? As I have found, these communities have forged more than material networks for survival. They also exhibit a way of relating to one another that cuts back at the profit-over-people rationale driving displacement in the nation’s capital, creating a sense of home amidst and against the threat of displacement.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

STIP Student Hannah Brennan Works Toward the Creation of the Non-Native Articulatory Corpus.

This summer I worked on a pilot project toward the creation of the Non-Native Articulatory Corpus. This is a database of acoustic and articulatory data of speakers of French as a second language. The acoustic data is made up of the participants’ audio recording, while the articulatory data is acquired using an ultrasound machine on the participants to record the movements of their tongues as they speak. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 we were not able to perform the articulatory aspect of the research, but we were able to get creative and focus on an acoustic pilot study where we walked participants through recording themselves on a video chat to collect our data.

We were able to prepare everything for when the researchers would eventually be able to work on the database to its fullest. This means that we worked on the creation of the stimuli, the parameters of the research, and the website which would hold the database. The longest part was the creation of the stimuli: we set out to create a list of 40-60 sentences which would encompass every possible sound combination we could think of in the French language.

Additionally, to further work with the data we collected, as well as to test out our processes, the interns divided into two groups to conduct our own studies using the stimuli and the recordings created for the database. My group looked at the voice onset time of voiced stops (/d b g/) and how their placement in the word and in the sentence, and the following vowel can change the speaker’s production of these stops.

I have learned so much over this summer, from using different software to having a more concentrated study in phonetics, and I have been a part of the field of research in linguistics as a whole as we came up with new ways to continue our research in spite of not being able to use our labs and some of our machinery. Most of all, I have had the pleasure of working on the beginnings of a project that will outgrow me and continue to be a resource for linguistic study.