B.A., Wellesley College; M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University
Margaret Clapp ’30 Distinguished Alumna Professor of French and Linguistics
Professor of linguistics and French. Interested in language learning and speech perception and production.
I was trained as a linguist, so I am very interested in how languages are structured and how they change over time. My research focuses on the role of prosody in first and second language acquisition and in how we assess individuals on the basis of their voices. My current work looks at the rhythmic properties of the speech and music of musicians from different dialect groups and at how men and women assess women's attractiveness, dominance, sexiness and youthfulness from hearing a short segment of speech.
I teach a variety of linguistics courses, including courses on sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, the cognitive science of verbal humor and verbal play, and the written and spoken word. I have also taught introductory linguistics, phonetics and phonology, child language acquisition, and a variety of French courses. Over the years, I have done my teaching both in the cognitive and linguistic sciences program and in the French department. I particularly enjoy working with students on independent study or honors projects, and during my time at Wellesley, I have been an advisor for more than 60 research projects.
I have been a research scientist at Yale University's Haskins Laboratories, a center for the study of speech and reading, since 1977. I frequently involve Wellesley students as research assistants in ongoing projects at Haskins Labs. One recent project involved the assessment of English speakers' perceptions of Zulu sounds and another looked at how the babbling of infants from different linguistic communities changes over time.