Oxford University logo
Phonetics Laboratory
Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics

phonetics laboratory

About the Laboratory

The Phonetics Laboratory was established as an independent department of the University in 1980, and has been considerably expanded since. In 2008, the Laboratory was one of the units that contributed to the formation of a new Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics, of which it is now a constituent part. It occupies the basement of 41 Wellington Square. The experimental area consists of a small recording studio, an acoustics and perception laboratory, a physiology laboratory, and a speech processing laboratory.

Wilkins: organs of speechAlthough the lab is only 30 years young, phonetics has been studied at Oxford for about 800 years. Royal Society founders John Wilkins and John Wallis, for example, were among the Enlightenment pioneers of the articulatory description and scientific classification of speech sounds. In the early 20th Century, Henry Sweet was Reader in Phonetics; in 1913-14, Daniel Jones had a visiting appointment as Taylorian Lecturer in Phonetics, and from 1930 to 1940, J. R. Firth was Lecturer in Phonetics at the Indian Institute. "A Brief History of Phonetics at the University of Oxford" prepared for the BAAP 2014 Colloquium is available from here.

The Laboratory's resources are mainly used by linguistics students, especially graduate students of General Linguistics and Comparative Philology and of other departments working on speech. Hardware for physiological study employed by graduate linguistics students includes electroglottography, labial electromyography, measurement of airflow, anatomical models and tube models. Signal data may be recorded on an 8-channel digital tape recorder, or 4-channel recording directly to computer disk.

Audio recording provision includes a small studio with high quality microphones and digital recording. The studio is equipped with a computer system for the presentation of visual and/or auditory stimuli.

As well as excellent provision for research in speech physiology and acoustics, the computing infrastructure of the lab is outstanding. As well as Linux and Windows/Netware computer networks, there is an extensive collection of software for speech analysis and synthesis.

The Laboratory library contains a large collection of working papers from other labs, and a small collection of journals, books, conference proceedings, theses and offprints; on-line dictionaries, papers, theses and course notes; speech corpora; audio and video tapes.

The Laboratory is situated in the basement of 41 Wellington Square, as shown on this location map.