speech production and perception

linguistic rhythm

There is a certain rhythm when we speak, and the rhythm sounds different depending on the language. By examining languages of different genera, we argue that linguistic rhythm can manifest in terms of prosodic properties like tone and stress.

Latest publications from ICPhS2019 in Melbourne (ICPhS_1847) and AMP2018 at UC San Diego (DOI: 10.3765/amp.v7i0.4480)

2018 PhD dissertation "The Iambic/Trochaic Law and birdirectional sandhi in Teochew languages" (HDL: 10722/280873)

With Diana Archangeli (UA), Stephen Matthews (HKU), Douglas Pulleyblank (UBC), Marjorie Chan, Björn Köhnlein (OSU), Zoe Lam (UBC), Andrei Anghelescu (UBC), Yuhong Zhu (OSU), Nohyong Kim (OSU)

This project is funded by Fulbright and U21.

ultrasound imaging

In conversational speech, the boundaries of different sounds are not clear cut. In many cases, they coarticulate. We use ultrasound imaging to visualise vowels and their neighbouring unreleased final stops. It shows that the amount of consonantal coarticulatory information on vowels depends on vowel height.

Papers in 2021 from AMP2020 at UC Santa Cruz (DOI: 10.3765/amp.v9i0.4904) and ASA172 in Hawai'i (DOI: 10.1121/1.4970170)

With Diana Archangeli (UA), Jonathan Yip (HKU)


Sound change can involve both speech production and perception. By conducting production and perception experiments for a sound change in progress, we examine the contextual neutralisation of (de)labialised stops in combination of different vocalic environments. We found that different acoustic cues are relevant, and the socioeconomic background also plays a role.

JASA 143:3 on production (DOI: 10.1121/1.5036470)

JASA 145:3 on perception (DOI: 10.1121/1.5101935)

With John Culnan (UA)

tonal underspecification

Some new varieties of Englishes have a distinctive tonal flavour such as the English spoken in Hong Kong, where most speakers are Cantonese. Phonetic evidence suggests that Hong Kong English has a privative /H, Ø/ tone system, where Ø syllables either receive derived tones or retain their tonal underspecification on the surface.

Selected papers from ICPhS2015 at the University of Glasgow "Intonation of statements and questions in Cantonese English: acoustic evidence from a smoothing spline analysis of variance" (ICPHS1018) and TAL4 at Radboud University "Tone spans of Cantonese English" (DOI: 10.13140/2.1.4875.9040)

2014 MPhil dissertation "Aspects of tone in Cantonese English" (DOI: 10.5353/th_b5481868) - Supervisors: Stephen Matthews (HKU) & Diana Archangeli (UA); Examiners: Moira Yip (UCL) & Cathryn Donohue (HKPU)

music & language

Given that both speech and music use pitch, this project develops a way to represent and compare speech tones and sung tones via a musical means, that is, musical intervals (MI). Selected papers on this topic with different focuses:

Scaling of tone in language and music at ICMPC13-APSCOM5 in Seoul, South Korea "Linguistic and musical scaling of Cantonese tones" (HDL: 10722/205627) [Best Student Paper Award]

Hong Kong English at SP7 in Dublin, UK "Musical intervals of tones in Cantonese English" (DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-106)

Cantonese at ICPLC-2013 in Hong Kong "Cantonese tones and musical intervals" (HDL: 10722/205625)

prosodic typology

Among the many different linguistic features tagged in online corpora, some of them may correlate with each other. In particular, we re-examines Gil's 1986 prosodic typology concerning iambic and trochaic feet, and its relation to tonal complexities and word order type. With data from WALS, we perform statistical modeling of the coded data and explain the correlations in linguistic terms.

Upcoming: Talk at ALT14 at UT Austin!

Presentation at ALT10 at the University of Leipzig "Correlations between tonality and word order type" (HDL: 10722/192049)

With Stephen Matthews (HKU)

linguistic fieldwork


During the trips to Thailand in 2017 and 2019, I obtained data of Chiangmai Thai to explore the linguistic tone systems and their relation to musical tones.

Between 2013 and 2019, I have solo taught Fieldwork (Thailand 2019) at the University of Hong Kong, and fieldworked with Diana Archangeli and Stephen Matthews on three trips with undergraduates to Hawai’i (2013), Guizhou China (2015), and Lombok Indonesia (2015) respectively,


We made two trips to Indonesia to collect audio and ultrasound data of languages spoken in Lombok between 2015 and 2017. Mataram Lingua Franca Institute generously hosted us.

Recent publication in JIPA on Bajau (East Lombok) (DOI: 10.1017/S0025100319000239)

With Diana Archangeli (UA), Jonathan Yip (HKU)