SEFOS 2019

1st International Seminar on the Foundations of Speech - BREATHING, PAUSING, AND VOICE

Register now

SEFOS 2019

1st International Seminar on the Foundations of Speech - BREATHING, PAUSING, AND VOICE

Register now

SEFOS 2019

1st International Seminar on the Foundations of Speech - BREATHING, PAUSING, AND VOICE

Register now

December 1-3 2019

University of Southern Denmark - Campus Sønderborg

Alsion 2

David Abercrombie stated in his seminal Elements of General Phonetics (1967) that speech is essentially "movements made audible" and he continues with showing, throughout his book, that "an air stream [...] is the basis of the whole of the sound, in all its variety, of human speech" (p.24).
Communication is inextricably linked with the generation of voice (in humans and other mammals). Breathing is the basis for this voice generation, and communication rests on a complex pattern of voicing, breathing and non-voicing, i.e. pausing. Therefore, breathing, pausing, and the voice together form the basis for all phonetic and phonological aspects of language.

Advancements in the analysis of interactions and dialogues (both human-human and human-machine), technological developments such as the Respiratory Inductance Plethysmograph (RIP), and the growing interest in social prosody have led to many new insights on how, for example, breathing and speech are coordinated, how systematically and diversely the voice is used in communication and in different speaking styles, how pauses and the perception of (dis)fluent speech are related, and how precisely pauses are prepared, indicated prosodically, and timed with turn-yielding and turn-taking.

The 1st International Seminar on the Foundations of Speech (SEFOS) will be the first event dedicated to the energetic mechanisms, states, and patterns of communication as well as to the multifaceted coloring and communicative functions of the voice. SEFOS aims to bring together researchers from different disciplines, such as phonetics, phonology, psychology, medicine, acoustics, speech technology, and computer linguistics.


Plínio A. Barbosa

University of Campinas, Brazil, Dept. of Linguistics, Institute for Language Studies
Stylistic and cross-linguistic differences in the prosodic organization of breathing, stressing, and pausing

Jeremy Day-O’Connel
PhD / Associate Professor / Music Department / Skidmore College / Saratoga Springs USA
Voice, Ear, and Mind: The Foundations of Speech and Song


Jens Edlúnd, Ph.D.
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Dept. of Speech, Music and Hearing
Breathing in interaction between humans and between humans, machines and robots




Donna Erickson, Ph.D. 
Kanazawa Medical University, Solific Sophia University, Haskins Laboratories
Voice: A multifaceted finely-tuned instrument for any occasion and culture


We invite contributions on all the various aspects of breathing, pausing, and the voice. Reflecting the cross-disciplinary nature of these fields of research, we are particularly pleased about submissions from the entire speech sciences and beyond, i.e., for example, medicine, rhetoric, technology, music, and zoology.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • acoustic and physiological analyses of speech breathing

  • breathing, pausing, and phonation patterns under different mental, emotional, physical conditions

  • pathological/clinical aspects of breathing, pausing, and the voice, including pain.

  • personality traits (including attractiveness), speaking styles, and their links to breathing, pausing, and the voice

  • breathing, pausing, and/or voice patterns in human-machine-interaction and speech technology in general

  • interrelations between breathing, pausing, and the voice

  • interrelations with other features of prosody, such as F0 and intensity

  • silent, fluent, and disfluent pauses, hesitation phenomena

  • breathing, pausing and interaction, turn-taking, discourse control

  • forms and functions of voice quality in communication

  • singing and its relation to phonation and breathing

  • new technological or methodological development on the analysis of breathing, pausing, and the voice

  • recourses and corpora



to be announced!

8:00 - 23:55
KEYNOTE: Stylistic and cross-linguistic differences in the prosodic organization of breathing, stressing, and pausing
Speech breathing is very different from tidal breathing both with respect to its overall amplitude and the duration of inspiration and expiration phases. In terms of these two phases, speech breathing is strongly asymmetrical, with the expiration phase easily exceeding 2 to 4 seconds. This extended expiration time window is the foundation on which pauses, syllables and stress groups are built. In the first part of this lecture, experimental data from read and spontaneous speech in different speaking styles is presented to show how duration patterns of pauses, syllables and stress groups change cross-stylistically and how breathing patterns are adjusted by speakers to meet these stylistic changes and to support the realization of prominences and phrase boundaries in each style. For example, recent contrastive analyses of breathing patterns in read and narrated speech in Brazilian Portuguese revealed style-specific changes in inspiration amplitude and duration as well as in breath group duration and, moreover, gender-specific differences within these stylistic changes. Reading is also characterized by a higher frequency of inspiration, whereas narration shows a higher amplitude of inspiration. In the second part of this lecture, it is demonstrated that the relatively consistent and style-specific pause and prominence patterns allowed developing an algorithm for the automatic detection of terminal boundaries (of utterances in speech-act terms) in read and narrated speech. The algorithm was successfully tested for Brazilian Portuguese (BP), European Portuguese (EP), French and German. The audio file alone is sufficient for the algorithm to work, i.e. it does not require any previous transcription or linguistic-analysis efforts. The algorithm operates in two stages: first, it detects vowel onsets (VO) and then, it normalizes VO-to-VO interval durations in order to obtain smoothed z-scores; z-score peaks that exceed the threshold value of 2.5 are considered terminal boundaries. Proportion of hits for reading (circa 70 %) are better than for narration (circa 60 %) for all languages, with performance levels generally being higher for EP and French.
8:00 - 23:55
KEYNOTE: Breathing in interaction between humans and between humans, machines and robots
In typical everyday life situations, few things require as little thought as breath and breathing. Breathing is a constant, life-sustainable function that we rarely pay any attention to unless we’re short of breath. In the typical case, we likewise pay little explicit attention to the breath of others, unless they show signs of having difficulties with it. Still, there is widespread evidence that we react to breathing, even though we may not be aware of it. And an argument could be made that speech without breathing, such as most synthetic speech in machines and robots, will elicit different reactions from human interlocutors (and possibly from other machines) than speech with breathing.

I will present a high-level walkthrough of findings, well-grounded or impressionistic, concerning the role of breath and breathing in spoken interaction and perhaps touch on some related phenomena that behave in similar ways.. Examples and comparisons come from face-to-face interaction between humans or humans and robots, as well as from human conversations with disembodied talking machines.
8:00 - 23:59
KEYNOTE: Voice: a multifaceted finely-tuned instrument for any occasion and culture

Voice actors/actresses can change their voice in amazing ways, to give the impression of the character they are portraying. Non-professionals can too, and we do it all the time, for the most part unconsciously, in every day conversation.  This talk addresses the voice as a multifaceted finely-tuned instrument, which we can change at will, depending on the situation. I discuss examples of “voice changes” appropriate and inappropriate for different cultures and social settings; for instance, what is a successful cake seller voice in Japan, and how does this voice sound to Americans or Chinese listeners? Also, what is an appropriate seductive or irritated or polite voice in the U.S., Japan, France, and Brazil?  What are some characteristics of negative or positive “voices” in different cultures?  I also discuss how we tune our voice instrument: what are some things we do with our anatomical production tools to bring about these voice changes in terms of adjustments at the vocal folds and vocal tract.

8:00 - 23:59
KEYNOTE: Voice, Ear, and Mind: The Foundations of Speech and Song

This paper aims to contextualize our collective work at SEFOS, through a comparison of language and music, the two main modes of human auditory communication.  The common foundation of language and music--at least in their paradigmatic forms as speech and song--is, of course, the voice.  A miracle of bioengineering, the human voice is capable of a rapid control of spectral change (enabling phonological structure) while simultaneously producing variations in fundamental frequency, timing, and loudness (enabling prosodic structure).  The latter set of elements offer the clearest parallels between language and music--prosody is, in effect, the music of speech--but other parallels exist as well, highlighting the role of not only voice, but ear and mind as well.
I will discuss certain comparable features of language and music in the realms of phonology, prosody, syntax, and discourse, before turning to a deeper consideration of pitch itself.  A particularly rich locus common to linguistic pitch and musical pitch is the idiosyncratic vocal form known as “stylized intonation,” an apparent intermixture of spoken and sung vocal production.  As I will show, stylized intonation provides a unique linguistic perspective on musical systems, even pointing to the possible vocal/linguistic foundation of an important musical universal--the pentatonic scale.  I have developed a novel elicitation paradigm to systematically investigate stylized intonation cross-culturally, which I will introduce along with the 12-language corpus that it has spawned (the “Fa-Fa Corpus”).  I will then present preliminary data from this corpus relevant to the universalist hypothesis.


Conference destination Sønderborg

easy to get to - easy to love

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