News & Events

See below for updates on the project, including past and upcoming events, and other news.

Click here to see more of Sydney Speaks in action.


 SST 2018 - 17th Speech Science and Technology Conference, Sydney

James Grama presented a poster examining changes in the short-front vowel shift from the 1970s to today, co-authored with Simón González and Catherine Travis. The poster can be found here.

And Simón González gave a presentation co-authored with Catherine Travis, James Grama, Danielle Barth and Sunkulp Ananthanarayan titled ‘Recursive forced alignment: A test on a minority language’. This paper has been published in the SST proceedings, and can be accessed here.



 13th High Desert Linguistic Society Conference 

Catherine Travis presented a paper co-authored with James Grama and Simón González on 'Ethnolectal variation ov(er) time: Word-final (er) in Australian English’ at the 13th High Desert Linguistic Society Conference, University of New Mexico (9 November 2018). In the paper, they explore the role of ethnic groups in change over time, and find that 1970s Greek Australians led lengthening of word-final (er) in Intonation Unit final position (e.g. I can’t remember), and that this change has been adopted today by Anglo, Italian and Chinese Australians.



New Ways of Analyzing Variation 47 

Danielle Barth and Sunkulp Ananthanarayan presented work in collaboration with Simón Gonzalez, James Grama and Catherine Travis at NWAV47 (New Ways of Analyzing Variation 47, New York University, 19 October 2018). The presentation outlines the results from applying a recursive algorithm to forced alignment of a minority language of Papua New Guinea—Matukar Panau, and the paper it is based on can be found here (from the proceedings for the 17th Speech Science and Technology Conference). 



Centre of Language Sciences at Macquarie University 

Sydney Speaks presenting on forced alignment at the Centre of Language Sciences at Macquarie University in September 2018, including a seminar by James, Simón and Catherine titled ‘Expanding the study of linguistic variation through forced-alignment’, and a hands-on workshop delivered by Simón on and James on the Montreal Forced-Aligner.


2nd Workshop on Sociophonetic Variability in the English Varieties of Australia (SocioPhonAus2)

Catherine Travis, James Grama and Simón González attended the Second Workshop on Sociophonetic Variability in the English Varieties of Australia (SocioPhonAus2) in Brisbane from the 16th-17th of July 2018. The Sydney Speaks team presented a talk titled ‘Insights from spontaneous speech for the characterisation of vocalic change over time in Sydney’, in which they applied Generalised Additive Mixed Models to analyse changes in diphthongs in the speech of Anglo females from the 1970s to today. Simón also presented (with Gerry Docherty) on the application of forced alignment to vocalic variation.

Photo: Jen Nycz


Sociolinguistics Symposium 22

James Grama presented a Sydney Speaks paper at Sociolinguistics Symposium 22, as part of a workshop on ‘Ethnolectal research across the globe’ (June 2018). The study of word-final (er) (as in teacher, remember) found that it has lengthened over time in Intonation-Unit-final position. And while in the 1970s, there was ethnolectal variation (with Greeks possibly having led in this lengthening), today, different ethnic groups pattern similarly.


Linguistic Stereotyping and Discrimination

Catherine Travis gave a presentation at a symposium 'Exploring the Challenges of Super-Diverse Populations in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region’, in Canberra on 13-14 June. Her paper on 'Linguistic Stereotyping and Discrimination’, discussed, among other things, the results from the Sydney Speaks app. The symposium brought together academics, government officials and policy makers to share and discuss ideas on the types of research needed to identify the important questions for multiculturalism and integration research in Australia and the possible implications these will have for the future. It is important to have linguistic discrimination included in this discussion.


CoEDL Fest 2018

At CoEDL Fest 2018 held in Melbourne, Simón González, James Grama and Catherine Travis presented a poster comparing the accuracy of four forced-aligners widely used in sociolinguistic research (FAVE, LaBB-CAT, MAUS, MFA). Read about their study and findings here.



 CoEDL Vowel Map

Sydney Speaks is currently compiling a CoEDL vowel map, and we would like to include your vowels on it. It involves being recorded while reading a short passage, and then having your vowels in that passage mapped. You will then be given access to look at where your vowels sit, in relation to others across the Centre (by variety of English, native language, gender, age, node, etc.).

Thank you very much to those of you who have already participated. If you haven’t yet been recorded, it will take only 5-10 mins of your time. Please contact Simón Gonzalez to make your recording in the CoEDL Recording Studio.




New Ways of Analyzing Variation 46

CoEDL members at New Ways of Analyzing Variation 46 (University of Wisconsin, Madison, 5th of November, 2017).

From left to right: Matthew Callaghan (PhD Candidate) presented a poster on variation in Chilean Spanish 2nd person forms; James Grama (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sydney Speaks) gave a talk on the social conditioning of vowels in 1970s Sydney; and Rena Torres Cacoullos (CoEDL Partner Investigator) ran a workshop on guidelines for statistical reporting of multivariate analysis.


2017 ANU Student Research Conference: Charbel El-Khaissi

Congratulations to Charbel El-Khaissi, Research Assistant with CoEDL’s Sydney Speaks project, who has won the exceptional presentation poster prize at the 2017 ANU Student Research Conference. Charbel used data from the Sydney Social Dialect Survey collected in the 1970s, which is part of the Sydney Speaks Corpora, to explore linguistic variation in Australian English. 

Read more about it here


 CoEDL Summer School 2017

The 3rd Summer School of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language will be held from the 27 November until the 1 December 2017 at the ANU. The Sydney Speaks team will be leading 'Sociolinguistics in the 21st Century'. 

Variationist sociolinguistics has been a trailblazer in areas that have become central to linguistics today, including: analysis based on corpora of spontaneous speech; the application of statistical models; attention paid to minority communities; and the promotion of interdisciplinary work, both between sub-disciplines of linguistics and across disciplines concerned with the study of human society. This course considers some of the key insights that have been put forward over 50 years of variationist work, and places them in the context of linguistics in the 21st Century.

The course will include opportunities for discussion and data analysis. Participants can also engage in a sociophonetics game and have their vowels included in a CoEDL vowel map.

More information about Summer School and registration is located here.


 CoEDL Fest 2017,  University of Queensland

Catherine Travis presented a progress update of the Sydney Speaks Project at CoEDL Fest 2017, showing how the continuing digitisation of spontaneous speech from the 1970s and the ongoing collection of data from contemporary Sydney-siders provides great opportunity to extend our understanding of how Australian English is changing over time, with a specific focus on the role of ethnicity.

Postdocs Simón González and James Grama presented an interactive poster exploring programs that automatically generated output for significantly different vowel distributions based on social factors. Their presentation prompted valuable methodological discussions with fellow CoEDL researchers and students.


Postdoctoral Researchers, Simón González Ochoa and James Grama, join the Sydney Speaks team

The Sydney Speaks team grows in 2017 as two new postdoctoral researchers join the project.

James Grama has just arrived from Santa Monica College, where he took up a position after completing his PhD at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa looking at English and English-based creoles. Simón Gonzalez Ochoa is also new to the team, having arrived at the end of 2016 from a position at Griffith University, working on a project exploring West Australian English.

James and Simón will be based at ANU as they work to better understand how Sydney's growing diversity has an effect on Australian English. 

Sydney Speaks Poster, presented at CoEDL Fest, February 2016, Western Sydney University

At the first CoEDL Fest of 2016, we presented the poster below, which outlines the scope of the Sydney Speaks Project and the directions in which we hope to take it in the coming years.

Click on the image to view a larger PDF of the poster.

Launch of the Sydney Speaks Project: 26-27 November 2015

In November 2015, we launched the project as part of a two-day workshop, which included presentations by Barbara Horvath (University of Sydney) and Greg Guy (New York University). View the program and abstracts here.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University