From the first linguistic descriptions mentioning nasal sounds (as old as Panini’s, 5th century BC) to the phonetic and phonological studies in the 20th and 21st century, passing by the work of comparative grammarians in the 19th century, nasalization has always been a topic of investigation for those who are interested in human language and speech. With the beginnings of experimental phonetics, from the end of the 19th century, essential steps were taken towards a better comprehension of nasal phenomena, via the development of inventive instrumentation devices (Rousselot, 1897). From the middle of the 20th century, the basic principles of the acoustics and perception of nasalization were determined (Delattre, 1954, House & Stevens, 1956, Fant, 1960). Approximately at the same moment, several physicists investigated the specific disabilities of cleft palate speakers, particularly hypernasality (Warren et Dubois, 1964).
Phonetic studies in the 60’s and the 70’s yielded important findings concerning the production of nasal sounds, including in pathological speech. A variety of data and techniques were used, such as (cine)radiography, electromyography, fiberoscopy, aerodynamics (Björk, 1961, Fritzell, 1969, Bell-Berti , 1976, Benguerel et al., 1977, Weinberg et al., 1968), and devices specifically dedicated to the study of nasalization were designed (e.g. the nasograph: Ohala, 1971). Nasal studies much contributed to the elaboration of coarticulation theories and models (for a review, see Chafcouloff & Marchal, 1999). More recently, in the 80’s and the 90’s, our understanding of the perception of nasalization has made much progress with the development of synthesized speech and modelling (Beddor, 1993, Kingston et MacMillan, 1995, Krakow et al., 1988, Maeda, 1993).
Despite these progresses, nasalization is one of those phenomena still resisting to extensive linguistic knowledge. Nasalization processes can only be described in linguistic terms using a rare complexity in instrumental techniques, as well as in methods and concepts, and they are hard to integrate with the most powerful models and theories. Although there have been numerous studies on various aspects of the production of nasal sounds, we still lack a fully operational data-driven model of nasal production including the non linearities between the articulatory, aerodynamic and acoustic phase. Moreover, despite the first advances made on articulatory modelling (Maeda, 1982, 1993), it remains unclear how exactly the spatial extent of the nasal gesture is related with the percept of nasalization. Also, the issue of the realization of nasalization in the time domain still remain vastly unresolved. Each language has its own coarticulation patterns, involving specific gestural adjustments and coordination patterns, but the phonetic and phonological constraints that limit (or determine) these patterns still need to be established, e.g. the role of prosodic structure (Vaissière, 1988, Fougeron, 2001), the relationships within a given phoneme inventory, the covariation between nasalization and other features/gestures (Solé, 2007) such as voicing and frication for consonants and tongue height and place of articulation for vowels, etc. The perception of nasal coarticulation across languages is among the most promising directions of research towards a better understanding of nasal phenomena (Beddor, 2007).
Finally, the diversity of human languages generates undefinite variability. Many languages of the world still remain poorly described, and some of them host intriguing nasal phenomena. Whether on pre-nasalized nasal fricatives in kinyarwanda (Demolin, 2005) or on pre and post-oralized nasal stops in karitiana (Storto & Demolin, 2008), the most recent work on the world’s languages nasal variants allows researchers to test previous hypotheses and modelling proposals.
Indeed, although nasals and nasalization challenge the researcher in speech and language sciences, at the same moment they provide a valuable opportunity to investigate the core of the language faculty, in both its functional and cognitive dimensions. Nasalization processes give us an opportunity to investigate what is universal, and what is language-specific, in the sound patterns we work on describing and explaining (e.g. Maddieson, 2007). Similarly, nasal studies have contributed, and will undoubtedly contribute again, in designing and developing tools, theories and models on basic issues in phonetics and phonology such as acoustic and articulatory modelling, coarticulation theories, foreign language acquisition models, etc. Nasal studies can play a central role in our quest towards a better understanding of human spoken language.
The aim of this international workshop is to allow researchers around the world to meet and exchange about their recent work on nasals and nasalization. We welcome every submission concerning nasalization, in particular those concerning : speech production (articulatory measurements, aerodynamic studies, acoustic analysis, etc.), perception of nasalization, phonological studies, phonetic universals, modelling, poorly described languages, pathological and clinical aspects of nasalization, language acquisition, L2 learning, etc. We are specifically interested in proposals aiming at interconnecting these discipline subfields: relationships between production and perception, cross-linguistic studies, multi-instrumentation, links between phonological patterns and phonetic constraints, convergences and divergences between L1 acquisition and L2 learning, etc.