mixing acoustic phonetics, statistics and comparative philology to bring speech back from the past

Oxford University logospeaker
University of Cambridge
 Phonetics Laboratory

 Statistical Laboratory  

What we are trying to do
Audio demonstrations
Indo-European digits database

Interesting links

PAPERS (in inverse sequence, i.e. newest at the top)

A. On reconstruction of ancient sounds

D Pigoli, PZ Hadjipantelis, JS Coleman and JAD Aston. Under review. The analysis of acoustic phonetic data: exploring differences in the spoken Romance languages. Preprint at

N Shiers, JAD Aston, JQ Smith and J
Coleman. Under review. Gaussian tree constraints applied to acoustic linguistic functional data. Preprint at

J Coleman, J Aston and D Pigole (2015) Reconstructing the sounds of words from the past. In The Scottish Consortium for ICPhS 2015 (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow, UK: the University of Glasgow. ISBN 978-0-85261-941-4. Paper number 0296
retrieved from, mirrored here.

D Pigoli (2015) Statistical analysis of acoustic phonetic data to explore cross-linguistic trends. Paper presented at the SET for Britain Exhibition (poster competition at Westminster for early career research scientists, engineers and mathematicians), 9th March 2015.

D Pigoli, JAD Aston, IL Dryden and P Secchi (2014) Distances and Inference for Covariance Functions, Biometrika, 101 (2), 409-422.
This paper in one of the top statistics journals gives the first statistical analysis of covariance operators with an example of finding distances between European languages.
For a link to Davide's presentation, choose "Presentations" from the menu on the left.

JAD Aston (2014) Statistically Speaking. Eureka 63, 48-51. Reproduced with permission: f
or more information about Eureka Magazine and other publications of The Archimedeans, visit

PZ Hadjipantelis (2013) Functional Data Analysis in Phonetics.
PhD Thesis, Department of Statistics, University of Warwick.

The Functional Phylogenies Group (JAD Aston, D Buck, J
Coleman, CJ Cotter, NS Jones, V Macaulay, N MacLeod, JM Moriarty, and A Nevins) 2011.
Phylogenetic inference for function-valued traits: speech sound evolution.
Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

B. On functional data analysis applied to phonetics, more generally

PZ Hadjipantelis, JAD Aston, HG Müller, and JP Evans. Unifying Amplitude and Phase Analysis: A Compositional Data Approach to Functional Multivariate Mixed-Effects Modeling of Mandarin Chinese. Journal of the American Statistical Association, in press.

PZ Hadjipantelis, JAD Aston and JP Evans (2012). Characterizing fundamental frequency in Mandarin: A functional principal component approach utilizing mixed effect models, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131: 4651–4664.
This paper provides a typology for Mandarin in terms of both representative tonal patterns and their corresponding importance for different pragmatic situations.

JE Evans, M Chu, JAD Aston and C Su (2010). Linguistic and human effects on F0 in a tonal dialect of Qiang Phonetica, 67: 82-99. Preprint.
This paper gives a mixed effects analysis for a rare Sino-Tibetan language and finds previously undocumented linguistic male / female distinctions.

JAD Aston, J-M Chiou and JP Evans (2010). Linguistic Pitch Analysis using Functional Principal Component Mixed Effect Models. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series C (Applied Statistics), 59: 297-317. Preprint.
Provided a functional data framework for use in phonetics by the development of a novel class of functional mixed models.

Grabe, E., G. Kochanski and J. Coleman (2007). Connecting intonation labels to mathematical descriptions of fundamental frequency. Language and Speech 50 (3), 281-310.
This paper uses orthogonal polynomials to model f0 contours in various kinds of sentences in several UK English dialects.

John Coleman is supported by a Science in Culture Innovation Award from the
AHRC logo

John Aston is supported by a Fellowship from theEPSRC logo