John J. Ohala

Professor Emeritus

Picture of John J. Ohala
experimental phonology and phonetics, historical phonology, ethological aspects of communication, speech technology

Personal Statement

Expanded Homepage
Ph.D., Linguistics, University of California, Los Angeles, 1969. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1970, becoming full professor in 1977. He is a pioneer in experimental, laboratory-based, studies of the phonetic and psychological factors shaping speech sounds and their behavior. In addition he works to apply the basic findings of phonetics and phonology in practical domains such as speech synthesis and automatic recognition of speech. He has also proposed an innovative ethological hypothesis which unifies — via 'the frequency code' — such diverse behavioral phenomena as the cross-language use of voice pitch for questions and statements, the systematic use of consonants, vowels, and tones in sound symbolical vocabulary, the "smile", and sexual dimorphism of the vocal anatomy in adult humans. He has published over a hundred papers on topics in phonetics, phonology, and especially the integration of these two fields by applying phonetics to explain sound change. He is past president of the International Phonetic Association and of the Permanent Council for International Conferences on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP). He served as Chair of the 14h International Congress on Phonetic Sciences, San Francisco, 1999.

Selected publications

The listener as a source of sound change."  In C. S. Masek, R. A. Hendrick, & M. F. Miller (eds.), Papers from the Parasession on Language and Behavior.  Chicago:  Chicago Ling. Soc.  178-203.  1981.

"The origin of sound patterns in vocal tract constraints.  In:  P. F. MacNeilage (ed.), The production of speech.  New York:  Springer-Verlag.  189-216.  1983.

 "Consumer's guide to evidence in phonology."  Phonology Yearbook 3.3-26.  1986. 

"Respiratory activity in speech.  In:  W. J. Hardcastle & A. Marchal (eds.), Speech production and speech modeling.  Dordrecht:  Kluwer.  23-53.  1990.

"The phonetics and phonology of aspects of assimilation."  In:  J. Kingston & M. Beckman (eds.), Papers in Laboratory Phonology 1.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.  258-275.  1990. 

"The phonetics of nasal phonology:  theorems and data.  I[With M. Ohala]  In:  M. K. Huffman & R. A. Krakow (eds.), Nasals, nasalization and the velum.  [Phonetics and Phonology Series, Vol. 5] San Diego, CA:  Academic Press.  225-249.  1993. 

"Listeners' identification of speech sounds is influenced by adjacent 'restored' phonemes". With D. Feder. Phonetica, 51:111-118, 1994.

"The frequency codes underlies the sound symbolic use of voice pitch". In Sound Symbolism, edited by L. Hinton, J. Nichols, and J. J. Ohala, Cambridge University Press, 325-347, 1994.

"Speech perception is hearing sounds, not tongues." Journal of the Acoustic Society of America. 99:1718-1725. 1995.

"Experimental phonology". In A Handbook of Phonological Theory, edited by J. A. Goldsmith, Oxford: Blackwell, 713-722, 1995.

"Alternatives to the sonority hierarchy for explaining segmental sequential constraints."  In:  S. Eliasson & E. Håkon Jahr (eds.), Language and its Ecology:  Essays in Memory of Einar Haugen.  [Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs, Vol. 100]  Berlin:  Mouton de Gruyter.  343-365.  1997.

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