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.