Laboratorio di Linguistica
'Giovanni Nencioni'

















Speech production and perception



Coordinator: Chiara Celata

Staff involved: Pier Marco Bertinetto, Chiara Bertini, Giovanna Lenoci, Rosalba Nodari, Clémentine Pacmogda, Irene Ricci


Charles Barone (Università di Pisa)
Silvia Calamai (Università di Siena)
Lorenzo Spreafico (Libera Università di Bolzano)
Alessandro Vietti (Libera Università di Bolzano)
Claudio Zmarich (CNR, Padova)


The laboratory facilities for speech studies include an anechoic chamber for high quality voice recording, instruments and softwares for acoustic analysis and for electropalatography, glottography and aerodyanimic measures (see Equipment).


Ongoing projects

The articulatory variability of rhotics

The project deals with rhotic production in Western varieties of Tuscan Italian and in some Sicilian dialects. Rhotics are analysed when produced intervocalically and when included in clusters with plosives. Synchronized EPG and laryngographic data are analysed. Among the issues addressed are the articulatory properties of the singleton-geminate contrast in Western Tuscan speech, the co-articulatory properties of rhotics in clusters with different places of articulation, the phonetic explanation of the sound change that originated retroflex affricates in Sicilian dialects from homorganic stop-rhotic clusters.

High-speed synchronous audio-EPG-UTI recording system
See webpage

Gestural coordination and speech rhythm. Implication for pathological speech
See webpage

Sociophonetics and sound change

This is a relatively new research domain in the Laboratorio. The interest in the sociophonetic aspects of variation has developed in collaboration with researchers of the universities of Siena and Bolzano. The specific aim is to verify whether some processes of sound change, typical of selected Central and Southern Italian dialectal varieties (e.g., complete assimilation in nasal clusters, consonant retroflexion) can be explained in terms of sociolinguistic pressures emerging from phenomena of contact or stylistic variations.
Since the organization of an international workshop on contemporary perspectives on sociophonetic variation (see Convegni), several collaborations and scientific exchanges with sociolinguists and sociophoneticians working in Europe and USA have been developed. A volume entitled Advances in Sociophonetics (publication expected spring 2014 by John Benjamins Publishing Company) collects some first results of our research in this domain.
A special issue of Italian Journal of Linguistics on the use of articulatory techniques in sociophonetic research has been recently edited. This volume collects contributions by some of the most representative researchers on electropalatography, ultrasound tongue imaging and electromagnetic articulography (EMA) dealing with issues of phonetic variation and sociophonetics.

Nasals in ayoreo

The voiceless nasal consonants of the ayoreo language (see Endangered languages) are analyzed with the aim of clarifying their phonetic structure and the production strategies behind them. Previous analyses showed that at least two production strategies exist: (a) devoicing spreads across the total duration of the consonant; (b) two phases are clearly detectable. It is however unclear whether such two-phases nature stems from a conscious production gesture, or from a non-intentional secondary effect due to misalignment of coarticulatory gestures. In the latter hypothesis, laryngeal activity would be anticipated with respect to the nasal release, i.e. there would be early activation of the vocal folds preparing for the following vowel segment. The analyses take into account several factors with the aim of evaluating their possible impact: individual variation, isolated vs. non-isolated word pronunciation, place of articulation (bilabial, alveolar, palatal), position within the word (initial vs. non-initial).

The vowel system of the Mòoré language

This study is included in our research project on the Mòoré language (see Endangered languages), parlanti di lingua Mòoré (Burkina Faso) a language spoken Burkina Faso, still little known in many of its phonetic and morphosyntactic features. In the Mòoré language there are seven short and seven long vowel phonemes, each having its nasal counterpart: central /a/, mid /e/ and /o/, and four high vowels distinguished by [±ATR]. The study aims at analyzing a vowel system that has so far never been experimentally investigated, with particular focus on the [±ATR] contrast. The purpose is to evaluate whether the acoustic parameters generally defining the [±ATR] contrast in several African languages are also at work in the Mòoré language, with particular respect to F1 and F2 values and vowel duration.

Phonology of L2 Italian: consonant gemination

Aspects of the Italian phonology are investigated in perception and production with respect to the acquisition of L2 Italian and to sociolinguistic attrition of L1 Italian. This research line presently focuses on consonant gemination in a cross-linguistic perspective. In particular, we are investigating the production of singleton and geminate consonants by L2 Italian learners natively speaking either Indo-European or non- Indo-European languages, such as English and Estonian. In collaboration with Università per Stranieri di Perugia, we are editing a miscellaneous volume entitled Consonant gemination in first and second language acquisition (publication expected spring 2014).



PhD Dissertation

In progress

Giovanna Lenoci: The contribution of experimental phonetics in early diagnosis of preschool stuttering. This study aims at analyzing acoustically intra- and inter-syllabic coarticulation in fluent and disfluent speech of stuttering children, using the Locus Equation method as well as more traditional approaches.

Rosalba Nodari: Sociophonetic investigation of the Lamezia Terme (CZ) dialect. This study aims at identifying, after an in-depth dialectological analysis, the relevant sociophonetic and micro-geographical variables in three different quarters of Lamezia Terme (Nicastro, Sambiase, Sant'Eufemia), as corroborated by a perceptive investigation concerning the speakers’ opinions on dialectal and sociophonetic variation.


Chiara Celata (2006): Analisi dei processi di retroflessione delle liquide in area romanza, con dati sperimentali dal còrso e dal siciliano. External supervisors: S. Giannini - G. Marotta - M. Loporcaro.



Sociophonetics, at the crossroads of speech variation, processing and communication 14-15 December, 2010 Proceedings


Recent publications

CELATA Chiara, Silvia CALAMAI, Irene RICCI & Chiara BERTINI (2012). Nasal place assimilation between phonetics and phonology. An EPG study of Italian nasal-to-velar clusters. Journal of Phonetics 41, 88-100 .

CELATA Chiara & Lidia COSTAMAGNA (2012). Geminate timing in the speech of Estonian L2 learners of Italian. In A. DE MEO & M. PETTORINO (eds.) Prosodic and Rhythmic Aspects of L2 Acquisition. The case of Italian. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

CALAMAI Silvia & Chiara CELATA 2012. Tra fonetica articolatoria e sociolinguistica: il caso dell'assimilazione di luogo nei nessi di nasale + occlusiva velare in italiano. Studi e Saggi Linguistici 50.

CALAMAI Silvia & Chiara CELATA 2012. Towards a sociophonetic explanation of progressive and regressive assimilation in NC clusters. In Silvia CALAMAI, Chiara CELATA & Luca CIUCCI (eds.), Proceedings of Sociophonetics, at the crossroads of speech variation, processing and communication. Pisa, Edizioni della Normale. 9-12.

CALAMAI Silvia, Chiara CELATA & Luca CIUCCI (eds.) 2012. Proceedings of Sociophonetics, at the crossroads of speech variation, processing and communication. Pisa, Edizioni della Normale.

CELATA Chiara & Silvia CALAMAI (eds.) 2012. Articulatory techniques for sociophonetic research (special issue of Italian Journal of Linguistics 24 (1)) .

CELATA Chiara & Silvia CALAMAI 2011. Timing in Italian VNC sequences at different speech rates. Proceedings of Interspeech 2011, Florence, August 28th-31st, 2011.

CELATA Chiara & Alessandro VIETTI 2011. Prospettive sociofonetiche sulla variazione. Studi Italiani di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata 40 (3).

CELATA Chiara & Jessica CANCILA 2010. Phonological attrition and the perception of geminate consonants in the Lucchese community of San Francisco (CA). International Journal of Bilingualism 14 (2), 1-25.

BERTINETTO Pier Marco, Irene RICCI & Na ZHI 2010. Le nasali sorde dell’ayoreo. Prime prospezioni. In F. CUTUGNO, P. MATURI, R. SAVY, G. ABETE & I. ALFANO (curr.), Parlare con le persone, parlare alle macchine. La dimensione interazionale della comunicazione verbale. Atti del VI Convegno Nazionale dell’ Associazione Italiana di Scienze della Voce, Napoli & Salerno. Torriana: EDK Eitore.

last up-dating: January 2015




Speech production and perception

Prosody and Phonotactics

Verb Features

Experimental Pragmatics and Neuropragmatics

Morphosyntactic Investigations

Endangered languages

Corpora building and maintenance