Christopher Geissler

Phonetics, Phonology, Teaching

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About Publications Research Teaching Resources CV etc


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Representation at the Phonetics-Phonology Interface

Depending on the day, I’m a phonetician whose work bears on phonology, or a phonologist who draws from phonetic data. Either way, I’m interested in how units of language are represented, especially at the sub-segmental level.

Articulatory Phonology

Gestures and their relative timing offer a very powerful way to examine phonology. I am drawn to Articulatory Phonology as a way to systematically integrate phonological and phonetic patterns. My work uses this framework to understand the relationship among consonants, vowels, and tones.


In collaboration with Kevin Tang and Eoin O’Reilly, I have begun working with the Task Dynamics Application (TADA) and VocalTractLab to test predictions of articulatory theories through simulation and comparison with recorded data.

Electromagnetic Articulography (EMA)

One of my favorite experimental techniques, EMA provides a high degree of spatial and temporal precision of the movement of specific fleshpoints in the vocal tract. I first encountered EMA at Haskins Laboratories, and I joined my advisor Jason Shaw in setting up the EMA system at Yale’s Phonetics Lab, where I completed my Ph.D. Along with colleagues from the Yale Phonetics Lab, I have also helped consult with the EMA setup at the University of Delaware. EMA data features prominently in my dissertation and related research, where I have primarily used it to quantify the relative timing of vocal gestures. See my Publications page for several publications and presentations using EMA.

Probabilistic Reduction

From Kevin Tang and Anna Sophia Stein, I have become interested in how the phonetic properties of a linguistic unit (word, morpheme, syllable, segment…) are affected by its probability in a given context. Anna, Kevin, and I are investigating different ways to quantify probability as it relates to acoustic duration, and Kevin, Eoin O’Reilly, and I have been exploring how reduction takes place in articulation.

Language Change

A full understanding of any phenomenon requires both synchronic and diachronic accounts. How does it work, and how did it get to be that way? I’m interested in the many factors that influence language change, as well as the pathways of change themselves. This includes Tibetan tonogenesis and its role in the system of contrasts in the language, as well as the formation of new dialects and change in diaspora. My review of The Historical Phonology of Tibetan, Burmese, and Chinese by Nathan W. Hill (2019, Cambridge University Press) was published in Phonology.

Tibetan and Himalayan Studies

While my research to date has focused on linguistics, I am also interested in the relationships between the findings of linguistic research and related fields, such as history and area studies. I have been involved in the Yale Himalaya Initiative and the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, and I have served as a reviewer for publications on Tibetan and Tibeto-Burman languages.

Scholarly Teaching and Equity in Linguistics

Linguists have developed a range of useful teaching methodologies, largely independent from the broader community of research on teaching in higher education. As a teacher and researcher, I am interested in pedagogy research and developing tools and best practices for teaching linguistics.

While linguistics has come a long way in becoming an increasingly inclusive field, we still have a long way to go. Hadas Kotek, Rikker Dockum, Sarah Babinski, and I tracked gender bias in example sentences in major linguistics journals. These slides summarize some results, and our paper has been published in Language and, in shorter form, in Babylonia.