Undergraduate Colloquium: Eleanor Chodroff

Dr. Eleanor Chodroff (Northwestern University) will be giving an Interdisciplinary Research Talk directed toward undergraduates entitled “How humans and machines adapt to speech: Insight from phonetics and automatic speech recognition.” All are welcome to attend, but only undergraduates may ask questions.


AbstractIndividuals vary considerably in their speech and language patterns. One only needs to recall the voices of a few people to recognize the range present in pitch, nasality, and many other phonetic characteristics. Take for example the baritone of Morgan Freeman, the nasality of Owen Wilson, or the creakiness of Kim Kardashian. These differences arise from sources including the speaker’s vocal tract, their dialect (or ‘accent’), individual articulatory habits, among others. Even with this vocal variation, humans are able to adapt to and understand new speakers with seemingly little effort. Underlying this ability is a complex cognitive system unmatched by even the most advanced automatic speech recognition technologies (e.g., Siri, Google Voice, and other speech-to-text systems). My research aims to understand this cognitive ability by examining the range, limits, and structure of speaker variation with inspiration and techniques from the fields of phonetics and automatic speech recognition. If speakers vary in systematic ways on dimensions such as pitch, nasality, and so forth, this structure can be used by cognitive and machine processes for rapid learning of the individual’s unique speech pattern. 


The event will be in Room 1001 of the Ponderosa Commons Oak House.

Food of some sort will be provided.

Note: This event *is* eligible to fulfill LOC requirements.