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Analysing the melody of spoken language


IAP and Spring


24: Linguistics and Philosophy

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel

Faculty email:


Apply by:

December 20, 2019



Project Description

Interested in how speakers vary their pitch and timing, i.e. their prosody, to convey meaning, accentuation and phrasing? Have some background in music, linguistic phonetics and/or cognitive science? Want to join a team project to complete the prosodic transcription of a spoken corpus, and analyse how prosody influences variation in the sounds of words in different utterances? If so, this UROP may be just your cup of tea. During IAP you will learn a system for transcribing prosodic structure; during the spring term you will apply this new knowledge by annotating the prosody of several different types of speech, from single utterances read in the lab to spontaneous conversations, and will analyse the ways in which sentence-level prosody influences the forms of spoken words. Familiarity with matlab and/or python will be a plus but is not required. Pays $13/hour, and requires a commitment of 20 hours per week during IAP (including meetings 11-1 on Tues and Thurs on the MIT campus) and 10 hours per week during the spring term. Contact Dr. Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel in the RLE Speech Communication Group, sshuf@mit.edu.


An interest in learning about how voice quality can vary over the course of a spoken utterance, and how speakers use this variation to signal prosodic grouping and prominence---as well as, more generally, how speakers use tunes and timing to signal meaning in speech. Some coursework in phonology/phonetics will be a plus; familiarity with matlab and/or python will also be a plus but is not required.