I am a (full) professor of phonetics in the English Studies department at Université Paris Cité.
Recent empirical studies have highlighted the large degree of analytic flexibility in data analysis that can lead to substantially different conclusions based on the same data set. Thus, researchers have expressed their concerns that these researcher degrees of freedom might facilitate bias and can lead to claims that do not stand the test of time. Even greater flexibility is to be expected in fields in which the primary data lend themselves to a variety of possible operationalizations. The multidimensional, temporally extended nature of speech constitutes an ideal testing ground for assessing the variability in analytic approaches, which derives not only from aspects of statistical modeling but also from decisions regarding the quantification of the measured behavior. In this study, we gave the same speech-production data set to 46 teams of researchers and asked them to answer the same research question, resulting in substantial variability in reported effect sizes and their interpretation. Using Bayesian meta-analytic tools, we further found little to no evidence that the observed variability can be explained by analysts’ prior beliefs, expertise, or the perceived quality of their analyses. In light of this idiosyncratic variability, we recommend that researchers more transparently share details of their analysis, strengthen the link between theoretical construct and quantitative system, and calibrate their (un)certainty in their conclusions.
English /r/ takes different tongue shapes from one speaker to another. It is well-established that tip-down and tip-up shapes produce perceptually similar outputs. However, it remains unclear why speakers intuitively acquire one type or another. The present study considers the hypothesis that rhotic and non-rhotic varieties of English may influence the acquisition of different tongue shapes. We provide articulatory data on the pronunciation of English /r/ by 19 French learners of English, 10 with rhotic and 9 with non-rhotic accents. Ultrasound tongue images were recorded for onset and coda /r/ in various vocalic contexts and were classified as either tip-up or tip-down. Although rhoticity as a predictor of tongue shape does not reach statistical significance, we found a tendency for rhotic speakers to use a higher proportion of tip- down shapes. We conclude that while rhoticity may partly influence tongue shape, other factors are alsoat play, including co-articulatory constraints