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Title: Experimental phonetics in Britain, 1890-1940
Author: Ashby, Michael
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This study provides the first critical history of British developments in phonetic science from 1890 to the beginning of the Second World War. It draws on both published and unpublished documentary evidence, and on original digital analyses of contemporary images, experimental data, and sound recordings. Experimental phonetics had diverse origins embracing medicine, physics and philology. A survey of the nineteenth century background shows that by 1890 significant British contributions in all three fields could have furnished the makings of a native approach to phonetics as an experimental science, but they failed to come together for a variety of bureaucratic, professional and personal reasons. Experimental phonetics-an academic fashion as much as a scientific specialism-was instead imported from Germany and France, and it had little continuity with British antecedents. The study details the earliest British phonetics laboratories, their personnel, equipment, and research programmes, providing the first extensive account of the UCL laboratory, and bringing to light a forgotten 1930s laboratory in Newcastle. The major methods of empirical investigation of the period are scrutinised, rehabilitating long-neglected British origins. The early work of Daniel Jones is extensively re-evaluated, establishing his scientific credentials, and the career of Stephen Jones, the first academic in Britain to earn a salary as an experimental phonetician, receives detailed treatment. New light is thrown on many neglected figures, including W. A. Aikin, E. R. Edwards, John G. McKendrick, and Wilfred Perrett, while a detailed investigation of the work of Sir Richard Paget reveals the astonishing accuracy of his auditory analyses. The study concludes with an account of the career of Robert Curry, the first recognisably modern and professional speech scientist to emerge in Britain.
Supervisor: Coleman, John S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of phonetics ; Phonetics ; Phonetics ; Experimental ; Speech research ; Experimental phonetics ; Phonetics laboratory ; Instrumental phonetics