Research Program

The Speech in Context Lab is a dynamic research group that studies how language is perceived, processed, and produced. Most of our work examines spoken communication, and we define context rather broadly. In the SpeeCon lab, context involves any linguistic or paralinguistic aspect of the language scene which may affect or influence the use of spoken language. This includes, and is very much not limited to, social context and associations, syntactic and semantic context, language environment, and talker variability to name just a few.

Two recurring themes in the lab are how language systems influence one another — across and within speakers/listeners — and phonetic variation. We approach both of these themes from multiple angles, using a wide range of paradigms, data sources, and analysis techniques. Many of the current projects in the lab involve deciphering the mechanisms and empirical evidence surrounding short and long-term perceptual adaptation to talkers and accents; perception and production patterns in multilinguals; and (socially) selective attention and memory in speech.

A home-grown resource worth drawing your attention to is Khia Johnson’s SpiCE: Speech in Cantonese-English Corpus, which is a freely-available conversational corpus of 34 early Cantonese-English bilinguals.

Land Acknowledgement

The Speech in Context Lab and UBC are on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations.

Local Languages

Research in the Speech in Context Lab occasionally involves work on the Coast Salish languages, in addition to other First Nations and indigenous languages of the Americas. We also study other locally spoken languages, and there is a particular focus on Cantonese, which has been spoken in the Lower Mainland since the 1800s. We study speech in context, and we work to develop our understanding of the social and cultural histories of the communities whose speech and language we study. This is important to us as researchers and as people. As researchers, we believe that language does not exist in a social vacuum. As people, we work to respect, acknowledge, and understand individuals, communities, and context.