Academic Profile

Dr. Scott Moisik researches the anatomy and physiology of speech production and its influence on phonetics and phonology. He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Victoria (Canada). During his graduate studies he worked on the topic of the phonetics and phonology of the epilarynx (the part of the larynx immediately above the vocal folds) implicated in the production of voice quality registers (variably involving tonal, phonatory, and vowel quality) and essential to the production of glottal stop and pharyngeal consonants. Dr. Moisik worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Language and Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen (The Netherlands). There he was part of the Genetic Biasing in Language and Speech project, which aims to understand the nature of human variation of the vocal tract – including its genetic bases – and the influences of this variation on speech production at the levels of the individual and of the linguistic community. He is co-author of the book Voice Quality: The Laryngeal Articulator, which was awarded the 2021 Leonard Bloomfield Book Award by the Linguistics Society of America. Currently Scott Moisik is a member of the Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University.

Courses Taught:
HG2002 Semantics and Pragmatics
HG2003 Phonetics and Phonology
HG3052 Speech Synthesis and Recognition
HG4070 Experimental Phonetics
HG4071 The Meat of Speech: The Anatomy and Physiology of Speaking and Hearing
HG8003 Technologically Speaking

Detailed Education Qualifications:
Ph.D., 2013 University of Victoria (BC, Canada)
M.A., 2008, University of Victoria (BC, Canada)
B.A. (Hons.), 2006, University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada)
LMS Scott 1cr.jpg picture
Asst Prof Scott Reid Moisik
Assistant Professor, School of Humanities

I like to say that my research focuses on the ‘meat’ of speech: I do research on speech production with an emphasis on speech anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, and the genetic, developmental, and evolutionary underpinnings of the vocal tract. I am interested in how these factors, along with the aerodynamic, acoustic, perceptual, and social facets of speech, conspire to shape speech sound systems, both giving rise to striking similarities yet also diversity from one language to the next.

By referring to the ‘meat’ of speech, I really mean to say that the body, especially the vocal tract, is important, in fact, essential to understanding speech sound systems. Modern approaches to language place an overwhelming emphasis on the role of cognition in shaping its underlying architecture. This has given rise to the impression that the physical implementation of language, even with regard to speech, is essentially peripheral to the question of what drives the organization of such systems and how such organization emerges and evolves on cultural and evolutionary timescales. My research takes a firm stance against the view that the body can be peripheralized in this way, and, thus, the focus of my research is on the biological foundation of speech sound systems. In particular, the emphasis is on factors that act as attractors towards reoccurring structure in speech sound systems and those that serve as engines of its diversity.

To inquire into these factors, my research draws on an interdisciplinary range of investigative methods. I have worked extensively with various forms of phonetic instrumentation, such as ultrasound imaging, normal and high-speed laryngoscopic cinematography, static and real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and digital impression technology (of the sort used by ‘high-tech’ dentists). I also have developed computational models of vocal tract structures and acoustics, including low degree-of-freedom models of source-generating vibratory mechanisms of the larynx and multi-body physics simulations of speech articulation conducted with ArtiSynth (www.artisynth.org). Together these methods provide a window into the processes underlying how speech is produced and give us the means to characterize and quantify these factors of ‘embodied’ phonological organization.
 
  • The secret life of consonants and vowels: An articulatory phonetic study examining how voice quality setting impacts segmental articulation
 
  • Dediu, D., Moisik, S. R., Baetsen, W. A., Bosman, A. M., Waters, A. L. (in press). The vocal tract as a time machine: inferences about past speech and language from the anatomy of the speech organs. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

  • Dediu, D., Janssen, R., & Moisik, S. R. (2019). Weak biases emerging from vocal tract anatomy shape the repeated transmission of vowels. Nature Human Behaviour, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-019-0663-x

  • Moisik, S. R., Czaykowska-Higgins, E., & Esling, J. H. (2019). Phonological potentials and the lower vocal tract. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 1–35. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0025100318000403

  • Blasi, D. E., Moran, S., Moisik, S. R., Widmer, P., Dediu, D., & Bickel, B. (2019). Human sound systems are shaped by post-Neolithic changes in bite configuration. Science, 363(eaav3218), 1–10.

  • Janssen, R., Moisik, S. R., & Dediu, D. (2019). The effects of larynx height on vowel production are mitigated by the active control of articulators. Journal of Phonetics, 74, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2019.02.002

  • Esling, J. H., Moisik, S. R., Benner, A., & Crevier-Buchman, L. (2019). Voice quality: The laryngeal articulator model. Cambridge University Press.

  • Moisik, S. R., & Gick, B. (2017). The quantal larynx: The stable regions of laryngeal biomechanics and implications for speech production. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, 60(3), 540-560.

  • Moisik, S. R., & Dediu, D. (2017). Anatomical biasing and clicks: Evidence from biomechanical modeling. Journal of Language Evolution, 2(1), 37–51.