The awesome complexity of human speech

For this episode we dropped by the Speech in Context Lab to meet Professor Molly Babel and her team of linguistics students. It’s a very busy team — they run a couple of thousand participants through various experiments each year. And they take full advantage of UBC’s multilingualism and multiculturalism to research speech and language in a variety of ways.


The team at the Speech in Context Lab

One of the fascinating things about human speech, says Professor Babel, is the fact that we all speak with different accents and dialects and yet somehow we manage to understand each other anyway. At the root of much of the research in the Speech in Context Lab is the question: how on earth do we understand each other when we all sound so different? 

Speech is a complicated dance that involves both the listener and speaker — the variability in the ways we speak is both challenging and amazing.


Wondering what linguistics experiments sounds like? We share some snippets of some of the weird and wonderful recordings that the team uses. And we take a mini-tour around the building that houses the lab, which is one of the oldest buildings on UBC’s campus.

You can hear this episode right here.


The building that houses the Speech in Context Lab at UBC


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