whistled language, drummed language, distant speech, typology

Julien Meyer,

Linguist, bioacoustician

 


 

 

My research is focused on acoustic communication, principally human language. I study cognitive, physiologic, ecologic and environmental constraints that influence language production and comprehension... and therefore the evolution of the languages of our planet. 

 

 

 

Training and Experience (short CV):

2013-2014 Invited researcher at the Collegium Lyon at the ENS-LYON (European Institute of Advanced Studies, Eurias Fellowship: link to the project)

2008-2013 Assistant researcher, Linguistics Division of the Museu Goeldi of Belem, Brasil; Member of the GELIG Research group, Grupo de Estudos de Línguas Indígenas do Goeldi. Funded by the Documentation Program of SOAS for Endangered Languages, University of London (ELDP), and by a PDJ fellowship of the CNPq (the National Agency of Research and Innovation, Brasil). (CV in the CNPq (Portuguese),

2006-2008 - Assistant researcher in bio-Acoustics in the Universidad Polytecnica de Catalunya (UPC), Barcelona, Spain (Post Doc Fellowship of the Fyssen Foundation)

2005 - Ph-D in Cognitive Sciences applied to Linguistics, Université Lyon2, France (BDI CNRS Grant in the Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage, Lyon)

2002 - M.Sc. in Cognitive Sciences, option Linguistics, Université Lyon2, France

2000 Engineer in Signal Treatment, Institut Supérieur de MicroElectronique et Applications - Ecole Supérieure d'Ingénieurs de Marseille. France

(link to the complete Curriculum Vitae)

 

 

 

 

 

I do fieldwork and laboratory analyzes on various languages of Europe, Latin America, Africa and South East Asia that represent a great diversity of linguistic families. I study standard spoken voice as well as non standard speech registers such as shouted, sung, whispered voices, whistled speech, the spoken mode of drums and even the sung mode of other traditional musical instruments. Each of these speech registers complement standard spoken speech in contexts where normal speech wouldn't be appropriate. They provide alternative insights to the possibilities and limits of modification/degradation of the acoustic speech signal.

 

New methods have been developped in several domains:

 

  • In production, including in noise and different natural environments to analyze their impact on speech
  • In perception, to verify hypotheses infered from phonetic analysis, by perceptual interrogation of speakers (intelligibility tests; word, phoneme or tone recognition in different languages)
  • A new Atlas of whistled and instrumental speech is being currently mounted thanks to the data collected around the world and to fieldwork in 13 different linguistic communities (25 months on the field in several periods).
  • We developped new methodologies to collect data in conditions of endangered languages: (a) Data collecting was made respecting the local and national ethics requirements and in collaboration with national profesionnal Archives (ALIM, Museu Goeldi) and international ones (ELAR, SOAS, London); (b) We document the contexts of use (story telling, telecommunication, hunting...). (c) We returned the data to the linguistic communities in the form of DVDs, CDs, articles, raw data, or organized Archives, and we often provided training in video and audio documentation. 


Recent publications:

 

Moore D, Meyer J (accepted) The study of tone and related phenomena in an Amazonian tone language, Gavião of Rondônia. Language Documentation & Conservation

Meyer J, Dentel L, Meunier F (2013). Speech Recognition in Natural Background Noise, PlosONE, 8(11),1-14, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079279 (PDF)

Kouneli M, Meyer J, Nevins A (2013) Whistled languages: including Greek in the continuum of endangerment situations and revitalization strategies In M.C. Jones (ed.) Keeping Languages Alive, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 198-211.

Meyer J and Moore D. (2013) Arte verbal é música na língua Gavião de Rondônia: metodologia para estudar e documentar a fala tocada com instrumentos musicais [Verbal art and music in the Gavião language of Rondônia: methodology for the study and the documentation of speech played on musical instruments], Boletim do Museu Goeldi, 8 (2), 52-70. (PDF).

 

Meyer J (2012) Pitch and phonological perception of tone in the Suruí language of Rondônia (Brazil): identification task of LHL and LHH tonal patterns.Proceedings of Interspeech 2012, 422-426, Portland, USA (PDF)

Meyer J, Dentel L, Seifart F (2012) A methodology for the study of rhythm in drummed forms of languages: Bora of Amazon. Proceedings of Interspeech 2012, 686-690, Portland, USA (PDF)

Varnet L, Meyer J, Hoen M, Meunier F (2012)  Phoneme resistance during speech-in-speech comprehension. Proceedings of Interspeech 2012, 598-602, Portland, USA (PDF) 

Meyer J (2012) La Parole Sifflée en Amazonie. In A. Anakesa (ed.) Homme, Nature, Patrimonialisation: Traditions et pratiques, discours et représentations, connaissances et savoirs dans les cultures plurielles de la Guyane et de la Caraïbe, DVD-ROM, Cayenne, France.

Meyer J (2010) Parole sifflée dans le monde: variété des locuteurs et de leurs pratiques. Linguistique de terrain sur langues en danger : locuteurs et linguistes, Faits de Langues, 35-36, 443-468.

  Meyer J. (2008). Acoustic Strategy and Typology of Whistled Languages; Phonetic Comparison and Perceptual Cues of Whistled Vowels. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1). Cambridge University Press, 64-90.(pdf) (journal)

Meyer, J., Casimiro, N. J. (2008). Exploiting the didactic role of whistled speech : interactions between phonetic research and education in Gomero Spanish and Mazatec, Language Design. Journal of Theorical and Experimental Linguistics, Special Issue 2 , 57-64. .(pdf)

Meyer, J. (2007). What does the typology of whistled forms of languages teach us about prosody? 7th biennal meeting of the Association of Linguistic Typology (pdf abstract)

Meyer, J. (2007). Acoustic features and perceptive cues of songs and dialogues in whistled speech: convergences with sung speech. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Musical Acoustics 2007. Barcelona. (pdf)

Meyer, J., Meunier, F., Dentel, L. (2007). Identification of Natural Whistled Vowels by Non-Whistlers. Proceedings of Interspeech 2007, 1593- 1596. Antwerpen. Belgium. (pdf)
Meyer, J. (2007).Whistled Turkish: statistical analysis of vowel distribution and consonant modulations. Proceedings of XVI International Conference of Phonetic Sciences.(pdf)
Meyer, J. & Dentel, L. (2007). Effect of propagation on speech in natural middles. International BioAcoustics Congress. Pavia, Italy.
Meyer, J. and Gautheron B. (2006). Whistled speech and whistled languages. In K. Brown (ed.) Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics 2nd Edition , Elsevier, Oxford , 13, 573-576. (pdf)
Meyer J. (2005). Description Typologique et intelligibilité des langues sifflées: approches linguistique et bioacoustique, Thèse de doctorat, Université Lyon2 (pdf en francais)

Meyer J. (2005). Typology and intelligibility of whistled languages: linguistic and bioacoustic approach. Ph.D thesis, Univ Lyon2: Cyberthese publication. (pdf, in French))

English abstract:

Whistled languages, which are linked to particular biotopes, represent a little studied valuable oral patrimony. They are analysed here in their diversity thanks to a 14 months fieldwork and collaborations done in ten linguistic communities during more than one year. Whistled speech relies on phonetic elements of the original spoken voice in order to communicate in the distance or in the ambient noise. It enables high intelligibility of sentences in difficult conditions of listening. A typological description is developed here thanks to the collected data. The linguistic types depend on the phonology of the concerned languages. A comparative study of the spoken voice, the shouted voice and the whistled speech shows that whistling enables to prolong the acoustic strategy of overcoming noise as the distance of communication increases. It therefore enables the human speech to naturally develop properties, which elaborate a true system of telecommunication. The transformation at play in whistled speech is a practice that requires complementary learning but it is based on natural perceptive capacities. For example the results of a perception test show that French persons knowing nothing of whistled spanish vowels can intuitively identify them. In order to analyse these different aspects, the proposed methodology uses the tools of phonetics, phonology, bioacoustics, sociolinguistics, psychoacoustics and psycholinguistics.


  Meyer, J. (2005). Whistled speech: a natural phonetic description of languages adapted to human perception and to the natural environment. Proceedings of Interspeech 2005, Lisboa. (pdf)
  Meyer, J. (2004) Bioacoustics of human whistled languages: an alternative approach to the cognitive processes of language. Advances in Bioacoustics II, Acad. Bras. Ciênc., vol 76, issue 2, p.406-412. (pdf)

 

- Complete list of Publications

- Some recent interviews and articles in the press

- Curriculum Vitae in French

 

Other online references:

- Wikipedia page on whistled languages


 
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