Fabienne Westerberg

Research title

An articulatory, acoustic and sociolinguistic investigation of Swedish Viby-i

Research summary

My research investigates the phonetics of Swedish vowel sounds. I use a combination of articulatory, acoustic and sociolinguistic methods to study how vowels are produced in the vocal tract, how they can be realised differently, and how people use them to express social identities.

My main interest is vowel articulation, which I study using ultrasound tongue imaging. This technique makes it possible to observe the tongue’s movements inside the mouth during speech. This is an important part of my research, since speakers sometimes use different articulatory strategies to achieve the same sound. We still know very little about this kind of variation, and how it relates to physiological and sociolinguistic factors.

My thesis focuses specifically on the Swedish /i/ vowel, which is sometimes realised with an unusual damped, buzzing quality. This variant is commonly known as “Viby-i” or “Lidingö-i”, and is used in some parts of Sweden to signal social status. The articulation of this sound is disputed, as there seem to be multiple strategies available to speakers. However, it is also possible that the production of this sound varies based on e.g. location, age, gender, or social class. For this reason, I compare speakers from three Swedish cities (Gothenburg, Stockholm and Uppsala) to see whether their /i/ productions differ from each other in either acoustics or articulation. 


Grants

  • ESRC, September 2016, £1,414, overseas fieldwork grant
  • University of Glasgow, June 2016, £300, research support award
  • ESRC, May 2014, £18,846 (nominal amount), full 1+3 postgraduate funding

Conferences

Conference presentations

  • Westerberg, F. (2018) Rogue vowel: Acoustic variation and dynamics of Swedish Viby-i. Poster presented at the British Association of Academic Phoneticians Colloquium, Kent.
  • Westerberg, F., Stuart-Smith, J., Lawson, E., Scobbie, J. & Cowen, S. (2017) Variation in tongue gesture and acoustics for the Swedish /i:/ vowel. Poster presented at Ultrafest 8, Potsdam, Germany.
  • Westerberg, F., Lawson, E., Scobbie, J. & Cowen, S. (2017) Is UTI suitable for fieldwork? Practical observations from six weeks of data collection in Sweden. Poster presented at Ultrafest 8, Potsdam, Germany.
  • Westerberg, F. & Lawson, E. (2017) How can I resist you? Change in the Central Swedish /i:/ vowel in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Uppsala. Poster presented at UK Language Variation and Change 11, Cardiff.
  • Westerberg, F. (2017) In the /i/ of the beholder: Looking at vowels with ultrasound tongue imaging. Paper presented at Manchester Forum in Linguistics, Manchester.
  • Westerberg, F. (2017) The changing Swedish /i:/ vowel: Evidence from three Central Swedish cities. Paper presented at the English Language and Linguistics Postgraduate Conference, Edinburgh.
  • Westerberg, F. (2016) When /i:/ is not a high front vowel: An acoustic and articulatory study of Swedish Viby-i. Paper presented at the British Association of Academic Phoneticians Colloquium, Lancaster.
  • Westerberg, F. (2016) What shall we do with articulatory vowel data? Paper presented at the English Language and Linguistics Postgraduate Conference, Edinburgh.
  • Westerberg, F. & Lawson, E. (2015) Sociolinguistic variation in the articulation of Swedish Viby-i. Poster presented at UK Language Variation and Change 10, York.
  • Westerberg, F. (2015) To /i/ or not to /i/: An articulatory, acoustic and sociophonetic study of Swedish Viby-i. Paper presented at the Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference, Edinburgh.
  • Westerberg, F. (2015) Paper: Say “iiihhh”: An ultrasound study of Swedish vowels. Paper presented at the Highlighting Research Postgraduate Conference, Glasgow.
  • Westerberg, F. & Lawson, E. (2014) An articulatory study of Swedish Viby-i using ultrasound tongue imaging. Poster presented at the British Association of Academic Phoneticians Colloquium, Oxford.

 

Impact events

  • Being Human, Glasgow (2017)
  • Edinburgh Science Festival (2017)
  • Tungans Roll i Talet, Gothenburg/Stockholm/Uppsala, Sweden (2016)
  • Rhubaba Choir, Edinburgh (2016)
  • Glasgow Science Festival (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Shedload of Science, Glasgow (2014)

 

Awards

  • Elsevier Prize, awarded for best conference presentation, University of Edinburgh English Language and Linguistics Postgraduate Conference 2016
  • Ladefoged Prize, awarded for presentation most in the spirit of Peter Ladefoged, Colloquium of British Association of Academic Phoneticians 2016
  • David Murison Prize, awarded for best undergraduate performance in Modern English and Scots 2013

Teaching

  • Learning Enhancement and Academic Development Service (effective learning adviser, 2018-2019)
  • English Language honours (tutor, 2018)
  • English Language level 2 (tutor, 2017-2018)
  • English Language level 1 (tutor, 2015-2017)

Additional information

Affiliation

  • Queen Margaret University Edinburgh (joint-registered)
  • International Phonetic Association (member since 2014)