- Research Program Mentor
PhD at Indiana University - Bloomington
Linguistics, Acoustics, Phonetics, Voice Acting, Vocal Tract Anatomy, Audiobook Narration
BioMy name is Colette Feehan, PhD. For my bachelors I double majored in Psychology and Linguistics where I focused on behavioral genetics (think how your biology affects your behavior) and phonetics (think the physics of how moving different mouth parts changes the sound that comes out of your mouth). I received a Masters and PhD in linguistics where my focus was articulatory and acoustic phonetics of voice acting. I looked at how voice actors move the parts of their mouth differently to create child-like voices and also looked at what about those child-like voices was different from their regular, adult voice. This involved learning a lot of vocal tract anatomy and the physics of how sound is produced and travels through air. I used a 3D/4D (height, width, depth, and time) ultrasound system to look at what the actors' tongues do in real time without having to put something into their mouth (like a camera) which would interfere with how their tongue moves. After completing my PhD, I left academia and started my own company. I work as an audiobook director where I provide feedback on performance to narrators reading audiobooks while they are recording. I love that I get to use my linguistic background in this job - before recording I always prepare the book by reading it, and creating a pronunciation guide. For example, if the book is fiction we need to touch base with the author to make sure the fictional people and place names are pronounced as they would like them to be pronounced. I also freelance as a voice actor for independent animation projects, audio dramas, podcasts, and commercials.
Sociolinguistic variation in my hometown
Have you ever wondered why some people pronounce words one way and others pronounce it a different way? In this project you will look at sociolinguistic variation in your hometown. For example, looking at Canadian Raising which is how the I in words like spider, cider, and typewriter gets pronounced. Here is one example of how to look at this type of sociolinguistic variation. First, you will create a word list of target words that might produce Canadian Raising for participants to say. Then you will ask people from different social groups to read the word list and record them on a phone or computer. Examples of these social groups include: men/women/non-binary; ages 18-35, 36-55, 56+; How long they have lived in the area. Once all recordings have been gathered you will then use a (free) program called Praat to analyze the I vowel in each word produced by each participant. After this is complete you will then graph those vowels using a (free) program called R, and compare these graphs both within social groups and across social groups to see if one type of pronunciation is more or less associated with a specific group. This kind of project is great for developing experience and skills with programs like Praat that are often used as the gold standard analysis tools within Linguistics.