17.3576, Support: Interdisciplinary: PhD Student, University of Edinburgh

Sun Dec 3 22:58:00 UTC 2006

LINGUIST List: Vol-17-3576. Sun Dec 03 2006. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 17.3576, Support: Interdisciplinary: PhD Student, University of Edinburgh

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Date: 02-Dec-2006
From: Simon Kirby < simon at ling.ed.ac.uk >
Subject: Interdisciplinary: PhD Student, University of Edinburgh, UK 

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2006 17:54:04
From: Simon Kirby < simon at ling.ed.ac.uk >
Subject: Interdisciplinary: PhD Student, University of Edinburgh, UK 

Institution/Organization: University of Edinburgh 
Department: Linguistics and English Language 
Level: PhD 
Duties: Research 
Specialty Areas: Computational Linguistics; Genetic Classification; Historical Linguistics; Phonetics 



Intuitively, all linguists might agree that a [p] is more similar to a [b] than either is to a [s] or a [e]; but 
how can we convert those intuitions into actual measurements? When speakers say that Irish and 
Scottish accents are similar, for instance, what are those judgements based on, and is it possible to 
replicate them computationally? There are already some systems available for making phonetic 
comparisons (between accents, for instance, or in speech therapy situations where we might wish to 
quantify the distance between the actual and target pronunciations), but some of these are based on 
acoustic data while others use articulatory parameters; and some involve very fine phonetic detail, 
while others work on phonemic or even essentially orthographic representations. Which work better? 
How could we improve them? And what else can we use such comparison systems for?

If you are interested in these questions, then you may wish to apply for our PhD studentship on 
measuring and comparing phonetic similarity. You will have, or will soon be expected to obtain a 
good Masters degree (or equivalent) in Linguistics, English Language, Computer Science, or a 
closely related discipline. The project will focus on a review and comparison of existing methods of 
phonetic similarity matching, with recommendations on the most promising approaches for 
applications in language and dialect comparison and classification. However, you will be able to 
choose to take a primarily linguistic, dialectological or computational approach to the topic, which will 
allow you to pursue your own research interests in, for instance, historical linguistics, 
psycholinguistics, or modelling applications.

You will be supervised by Prof April McMahon and Dr Simon Kirby in the department of Linguistics 
and English Language at the University of Edinburgh, and will join a vibrant community of 
researchers in the language sciences, including a lively research group on Language, Evolution and 
Computation with special interests in computer modelling. The studentship will be held in association 
with the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity at University College London (http://
www.cecd.ucl.ac.uk/home/), and there will be funding available to allow you to travel to the Centre 
and participate in the exciting interdisciplinary research being carried out there.

This is an AHRC funded award. Applicants must ensure that they meet the requirements for AHRC 
studentships (http://www.ahrc.ac.uk). The full award will provide an annual stipend of approx £12000 
per year for 3 years, plus University fees for home students: to qualify, you must show that you have 
a relevant connection with the UK, usually through residence. EC nationals who have been in the UK 
in full time education for the 3 years prior to the start of the studentship will also be eligible for a full 
award. Other EC nationals will be eligible for a fees-only award. 

For informal enquiries: Prof April McMahon, april.mcmahon at ed.ac.uk, +44 131 651 3081, or Dr 
Simon Kirby, simon at ling.ed.ac.uk, +44 131 650 3494. For queries about application process: Katie 
Keltie, Catherine.Keltie at ed.ac.uk, +44 131 650 3594. Application form available online at: http://
www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/pg/Funding.htm; under section 7 of the form, state that you are applying for the 
AHRC phonetic comparison studentship. You must also complete a University of Edinburgh 
Postgraduate Application Form at: http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/applications/
forms.html. Deadline: 28 Feb 07. Ideally the project will begin in Sep 07. 

Web Address for Applications: http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/pg/Funding.htm 

Applications are due by: 28-Feb-2007 

Contact Information: 
	Dr Simon Kirby 
	simon at ling.ed.ac.uk 
	Phone:+44 (0) 131 650 3494

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