Laurel MacKenzie has received a $131,180 NSF grant for collaborative research with Jason Bishop (CUNY) and Jelena Krivokapić (U Michigan) into individual differences in speech production and their role in shaping patterns of variation. The project is titled “The Individual Differences Corpus: A resource for testing and refining hypotheses about individual differences in speech production.” An abstract can be found below, and more information is available here.
Speech signals are rife with variation. Some of this variation derives from the form of the message itself (i.e., effects of phonetic and/or phonological context), while some derive instead from the speaking context (e.g., the need to produce faster, clearer, or less ambiguous speech). However, some of the variation found in speech has its origins in speakers themselves — i.e., individual differences. But what aspects of speakers and listeners cause them to vary, and what can they tell us about the language and speech production systems? The present research aims to create the Individual Differences Corpus, a publicly-available corpus resource designed for approaching questions about individual differences in speech production. The corpus is unique in that it pairs (1) thousands of words of connected speech produced by hundreds of native English speakers with (2) a large battery of measurements of all speakers’ cognitive and social profiles, including psychometrically valid measurement along several dimensions of cognitive control (e.g., working memory, processing speed, inhibition), cognitive processing styles (e.g., autistic traits, empathy) and more. The theoretical and empirical potential of the corpus is demonstrated in two psychometric studies of speech production planning that investigate planning from both prosodic and segmental perspectives.