Georgia Zellou

2017 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, Linguistics
UC Davis

Project Title: Tracking speaker-specific phonetic variation during spoken word comprehension

How are listeners successful at understanding words when they can be pronounced in so many different ways: systematically (vowels in words like “ban” can be nasalized), idiosyncratically (“Gena has a nasally voice”), and socially-patterned (“New Yorkers talk nasally”)? This proposal focuses on how listeners use experience with a talker’s voice to understand words spoken by that or different talkers. The solution is important for cognitive models of linguistic communication, understanding child and adult language acquisition, predicting language change, and designing human voice recognition software.