Barbara Davis

Barbara Davis

dates de séjour

01/02/2011 - 30/06/2011




Professeur de linguistique


Université du Texas, Austin (États-Unis)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Emergent complexity : Input-Output relationships in acquisition of speech capacities.

The goal of my proposed research at the Collegium de Lyon is to consider ontogeny of early speech production capacities in modern infants. Ultimately, I wish to provide a finely grained level of understanding of emergence of the phonological component of language. Phonological acquisition lies at the intersection of complex knowledge and complex behaviour. A central goal is to analyze a cross-linguistic dataset to evaluate hypotheses about the earliest stages of emergence of ambient language complexity in the early word period. Spontaneous child output and ambient language input to children will be considered to understand the emergence of phonological complexity across diverse language environments. These results will help to reveal how complex phonological systems emerge and to understand the role of input in governing these processes. Cross-linguistic comparisons will enable consideration of language-general properties of child systems versus precise ambient language-learning aspects of the developmental process. Second, the new knowledge emerging from this research will help improve understanding of issues related to impaired language development.


Barbara L. Davis, PhD, Is the Houston Harte Centennial Professor of Communication In the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Davis has published over 90 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. She is also the author of one book, Davis and Zajdo (eds.), The Syllable In Speech Production, and has another book In progress, Davis and Bedore, Knowing and Doing: An Emergence Approach to Speech Acquisition is due out In Spring 2011. Dr. Davis has been the winner of a variety of research and teaching awards during her tenure at The University of Texas at Austin. She is presently nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award from her university in acknowledgement of her research and teaching profile within The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Davis has been the recipient of a variety of research funding from the US National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to support her research over the past 20 years. In addition, she has been a consultant on varied grant projects funded by the EU with partners in France. Her current research and scholarly interests are in the area of speech acquisition and relationships of phonetic patterns in acquisition to phonological patterns observed in mature speakers. The larger theoretical perspective in her work relates to considerations of the variety of child intrinsic capacities embedded in a rich matrix of environmental support that enables emergence of an ambient phonology. This emergent phonology does not require a priori genetically specified form, but is possible through the wealth of intrinsic domain general abilities that enable the child to establish reliable links with the environment; a functional origin for acquisition of phonological structure. In particular, she is presently interested in exploring the interface of production system characteristics and perceptual influences. Relative to the question of interface of production system characteristics and perceptual influences, Dr. Davis’ research has centered on vocal development in infants identified in the first six months of life with profound hearing impairment who receive cochlear implants as well as emergence of vocal patterns in children with varying degrees of hearing loss. She has, in addition, explored early vocal patterns in visually impaired infants relative to the impact of visual access on emergence of production system patterns. She has also considered the interface between speech production system variables and onset of perceptual learning from ambient language regularities. In this body of work, she has explored typical speech acquisition in English-learning infants as well as conducting cross language studies of acquisition in Japanese, Swedish, French, Brazilian-Portuguese, Korean, German, and Equadorean-Quichua with a variety of colleagues to understand the potential universality of patterns found in studies of English. In this area of cross language research, she has also begun to explore the infant directed speech style as a special category of input potentially important in understanding the emergence of ambient phonological properties. To understand the relationship between mature speech production patterns and those observed during acquisition, she has conducted comparative analysis of adult speech patterns to patterns in speech acquisition in English and across languages. - 1 - Dr. Davis is also interested in translation of these basic research questions into understanding of clinical populations in which the circumstances of speech acquisition are either different or delayed. In particular she has focused on children whose speech acquisition is considered severely speech delayed. I have explored the clinical issue of prediction in “late talking toddlers” who do not develop vocal communication within the time frame considered typical in development. In addition, she has studied clinical markers for differential diagnosis in studies of childhood apraxia of speech. In her studies of children with clinical speech involvement, including hearing impaired children, visually impaired children, and late talking toddlers, she has also considered the interactive roles of gestural and vocal development in understanding the emergence of speech and language patterns.