Grant McGuire

Asst. Professor
The University of California at Santa Cruz
Department of Linguistics
Stevenson Faculty Services
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
gmcguir1 (at) ucsc (dot) edu



I am generally interested in speech perception as it relates to phonetics and phonology. My current research is aimed at perceptual learning, phonetic categorization, and language specific perception. I have been tackling these issues through various training, discrimination, and classification experiments. I have also recently begun working on audio-visual perception in fricatives as well as the interaction of sex, gender, and attractiveness effects in speech processing.


Dimensions, distributions, and their effects on perceptual learning
This project, using both speech and non-speech stimuli, explores how selective attention to different dimensions affects categorization and sensitivity to contrasts. So far results demonstrate that attending to a dimension relevant to categorization increases sensitivity to that dimension relative to unattended dimensions. Moreover, how learning to attend to a dimension can generalize to new areas of perceptual space.
--Selective attention and English listeners' perceptual learning of the Polish post-alveolar sibilant contrast
--Selective attention and generalization of dimensions in speech-like stimuli (coming soon)
--Effects of the distribution of acoustic cues on infants' perception of sibilants

The role of visual cues in non-sibilant fricative perception (with Molly Babel, U of British Columbia)
Though speech perception has generally focused on auditory cues, visual cues are known to play a significant role. This project examines how much visual cues contribute to the identification of a challenging contrast, /f/ 'deaf' and /th/ 'death'. These sounds are acoustically very similar, but have different visual cues. Across languages and various English dialects, /th/ frequently changes to /f/, but the reverse rarely happens. Our project examines the extent to which the salience of visual information contributes to the direction of this trend and how variability in talker saliency influences this effect.
--McGuire, Grant and Molly Babel. (2013) A cross-modal account for synchronic and diachronic patterns of /f/ and /theta/ Journal of Laboratory Phonology. 3: 251-272.
--Babel, Molly, and Grant McGuire. (2013). Listener expectations and gender bias in nonsibilant fricative perception. Phonetica, 70:117-151

Processing of different voice profiles (with Molly Babel, U of British Columbia; students: Joseph King, Alice Nicholls, Sophia Walters)

A series of studies on how different voices are perceived--focusing on how social preference and stereotypes affect the processing of voices. We examine 1) how accommodation to other speakers is mediated by these factors, 2) how attractiveness and stereotypicality influence voice processing, and 3) what kinds of acoustic features predict social evaluations of attractiveness.

--Babel, Molly, McGuire, Grant, Walters, Sophia, and Nicholls, Alice. (2014). Novelty and social preference in phonetic accommodation. Journal of Laboratory Phonology. 5(1): 123-150.
--Babel, Molly and McGuire, Grant. (2014). Perceptual fluency and vocal aesthetics. To appear in Cognitive Science.
--Babel, Molly, McGuire, Grant, and King, Joseph. (2014). Towards a more nuanced view of vocal attractiveness. PLoS ONE. 10.1371/journal.pone.0088616.

Exploring the causes of vowel dispersion (with Jaye Padgett, UC Santa Cruz; students: Tommy Denby, Northwestern, and Scott Seyfarth, UCSD)
While the shapes of vowel systems are often seen as the product of perceptual dispersion, the cause of this phenomenon is debated. Though Lindblom attributes dispersion to the communicative needs of speakers, others attribute it to automatic processes independent of communicative saliency. This project attempts to test these two concepts by examining dispersion over a brief time-course in a highly localized context.

Palatalization and Velarization in Irish (with Ryan Bennet, Yale; Jaye Padgett, UC Santa Cruz; Máire Ní Chiosáin, University College Dublin)
The Irish (Gaelic) language has a fairly unusual phonetic/phonological feature where all consonants have an opposition between palatalized (narrow) and velarized (broad) consonants. This contrast is not well understood and has interesting implications for the implementation of phonetic features. We are using UCSC's portable ultrasound machine to explore tongue position in these consonants. So far we have collected data from the locations in all three major dialects (An Cheathrú Rua, Gaoth Dobhair, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh). The initial analysis is complete and we are working towards a larger, more complete study.


Here's an essay on methods in speech perception that I wrote as a teaching aid. Please send me any comments and let me know if you found it useful!
--A Brief Primer on Experimental Designs for Speech Perception Research

I am currently teaching Graduate Phonetics (Ling 214). Other classes I frequently teach are Language and Social Identity (Ling 154; an advanced introduction to Sociolinguistics) and Phonetic Analysis (Ling 151; general phonetics for undergraduates). In the Fall I will teach a seminar, most likely on some aspect of exemplar models. In the past I've taught Introduction to Linguistics (Ling 50).