The maths of speech!

The LPL has been invited one more time at the Maths Fair, a popular science event organized by the association “Maths for everyone”, in partnership with the CIRM. The fair, which invites primary, secondary and high school students to discover mathematics from a different angle, was held on Thursday, May 11 in the town of Rognac (34 booths in total).

This event offers conferences, numerous stands and activities provided by provided by researchers, teachers and students aiming to promote mathematics.

The LPL booth was about “The maths of speech” and was animated by Alain Ghio and Audrey Fokeer, a master student in language sciences and currently an intern at the LPL. They presented to the public the functioning of speech, with demonstrations with Coke bottles to understand the phenomena of geometry and resonance. Examples of the sounds of Tanzania’s languages or of patients with voice disorders were also discussed. Finally, they offered a demonstration of an automatic online transcription system which – despite the noise – is working better and better.

As a reminder, in 2019, Alain Ghio and Gilles Pouchoulin had already participated in the same fair in Aix-en-Provence.

Credits: A. Ghio and A. Fokeer


Field mission in Tanzania: recording of the Iraqw and Hadza languages

Alain Ghio, research engineer at LPL, and Didier Demolin, professor at the Laboratory of Phonetics and Phonology (LPP) in Paris, carried out a joint mission from 13 to 26 February in the northeast region of Tanzania. The purpose of this mission is to record and study two languages ​​of this region: the language of the Iraqw (Kwermusl village) and the language of the Hadzabe (Mwangeza). The first language is distinguished by ejective consonants for which the larynx makes surprising movements. The second is a language spoken by a tribe of hunter-gatherers, which has 65 consonants, including a dozen clicks.

But what did they go to do more specifically?
Experimental field linguistics. The association of these different words is generally difficult to reconcile. And yet, that’s what they did. They went to meet Iraqw and Hadza speakers on the spot, in the bush, in Tanzania, and they recorded them with advanced laboratory techniques: aerophonometry, electroglottography, lab films, palatography ... which is a scientific feat almost new. Using these techniques in the laboratory in Amsterdam, Marseille or Los Angeles is common. Do field surveys with a portable pocket recorder. That is done. But doing aerophonometry in the middle of the savannah is a challenge. Didier Démolin is the specialist. Alain Ghio is co-inventor of the EVA2 aerophonometry device and masters the technical constraints of this type of experiment. [...]

For more information: Alain Ghio / Didier Demolin

See also the article published by the Laboratory of Phonetics and Phonology (LPP), partner of this project (in French):

Mission de collecte de données phonétiques en Tanzanie