ISCA Archive HSCR 2017
ISCA Archive HSCR 2017

The digital history of phonetic science

Michael Ashby

This paper looks at the effects of the digital revolution on the activity of researching and writing the history of speech communication research. Examples are given from the author's recent work in which new findings flow from the application of digital methods which may now seem commonplace but have come into use only within the last twenty years. Consideration is then given to the widely-held notion that ‘digital history’ is defined by its use of ‘big data’. It is shown that large corpora such as Google Books and the Internet Archive already benefit our efforts as historians of speech communication research, although we should make efforts to augment those databases, or build specialised databases of our own, with materials which target our requirements more directly. That would in turn entail developing OCR to deal with IPA and other phonetic symbols, and an indication is given of how that can be achieved. In conclusion it is suggested that digital methods radically reduce the cost in time and resources of lines of inquiry which would previously have seemed impracticable, thus changing our perspectives on what can and should be attempted and giving us the freedom to be more adventurous in our investigations.

doi: 10.21437/HSCR.2017-1

Cite as: Ashby, M. (2017) The digital history of phonetic science. Proc. Second International Workshop on the History of Speech Communication Research (HSCR 2017), 7-15, doi: 10.21437/HSCR.2017-1

  author={Michael Ashby},
  title={{The digital history of phonetic science}},
  booktitle={Proc. Second International Workshop on the History of Speech Communication Research (HSCR 2017)},