Eric Wilbanks

Current Projects

Variation and Sound Change

/str/ Retraction in Raleigh

I'm interested, most generally, in sound change and the role of phonetic factors in the actuation and realization of such changes.

Most recently I've been working with acoustic data on (str) retraction, in which /s/ retracts towards the alveopalatal fricative in /str/ clusters. As I discussed in a presentation at PLC 40, this change is ongoing in Raleigh, with young women leading the retraction in medial position (i.e. 'restructure'). If you'd prefer, you can learn about this sound change in poster form.

In the future I'll be examining the perception/production link within individual speakers for this variable, as well as investigating their articulatory realizations in order to better understand the processes which govern this sound change.

/tr/-/dr/ Affrication as Motivation?

In a collaboration with Lyra Magloughlin, we demonstrated that /tr/-/dr/ affrication, which Lyra has demonstrated to be an ongoing sound change in Raleigh, does not correlate with individuals' /s/ retraction patterns, supporting the view that /s/ retraction is due to the influence of the following /r/, not the direct assimilation to an affricated /tr/.

For more information on this project, check out the slides we presented at NWAV 45!




faseAlign: Forced Alignment System for Español

Working with Phoneticians in the Spanish department at North Carolina State University, I've developed a forced alignment system for Spanish. To install faseAlign, please review the documentation.

Acoustic models are trained on interviews from the Corpus de Español del Raleigh-Durham using the HTK Toolkit for manipulating Hidden Markov Models.

Slides from the intial presentation of the model at NWAV44 Toronto can be found here.




Linguistics of Gender & Sexuality

VOT and Perceptions of Sexuality/Masculinity

Exploratory perception experiments I've conducted (see these slides from NWAV 42) show that increased duration of VOT in onset voiceless consonants increase perceptions of Gayness and Femininity in Male speech.

I'm currently investigating the role of "clear" speech markers (which aspirated initial stops could be consider a part of) in perceptions of gayness as well as the impact of "typical" versus "atypical" faces in the processing of such effects.

Semantic Priming and Speaker Sexuality

I've also investigated the role of social information in lexical priming and access. In a lexical decision task with a Straight Male, Straight Female, and Gay Male speaker, reaction time priming in certain target-stimuli pairs were significantly altered by the speaker's sex/sexuality/identity.

For instance, participants who heard the word "Brush" were more strongly primed for "Teeth" when the males spoke "Brush" and more strongly primed for "Hair" when the female spoke "Brush". See this poster for more details.