Rory Turnbull

I am an assistant professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and I am interested in how people use and mentally represent the sounds of language. Before coming to Hawai‘i, I was a postdoctoral researcher in the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique in Paris. I hold a PhD in Linguistics from the Ohio State University, and an MA (Hons) in Linguistics and English Language from the University of Edinburgh.

Curriculum Vitae

Click to download my CV (pdf).


I am interested in the phonological processes and representations of the mental lexicon and as such my research sits at the intersection between phonetics, phonology, and psycholinguistics. In my PhD dissertation, I investigated the cognitive source of frequency and predictability effects in spoken language. More generally, I am interested in the ways that frequency, predictability, and other usage-based factors influence linguistic sound structures. My current research examines how factors of lexical organization, such as phonological neighbourhood density, influence speech production and perception. Additionally, I maintain an active research agenda in intonation and prosody, investigating the relationships between predictability, context, and the phonetics of prosodic contrasts.

I use a wide variety of research paradigms, drawing from experimental phonetics, cognitive psychology, and theoretical phonology. There is no "one size fits all" solution to research in the language sciences. This methodological pluralism entails a cross-linguistic approach, which is vital for the advancement of the field, particularly when a key finding is based on data from a small number of languages. Several of my projects involve cross-linguistic studies and diverse methodological approaches.


Journal articles

Proceedings and book chapters

  • Cynthia G Clopper & Rory Turnbull. (forthcoming). Exploring variation in phonetic reduction: Linguistic, social, and cognitive factors. In Cangemi, F., Clayards, M., Niebuhr, O., Schuppler, B., & Zellers, M. (eds.), Rethinking Reduction: Interdisciplinary perspectives on conditions, mechanisms, and domains for phonetic variation. Publisher's webpage.
  • Thomas Schatz, Rory Turnbull, Francis Bach, & Emmanuel Dupoux. (2017). A quantitative measure of the impact of coarticulation on phone discriminability. Proceedings of Interspeech 2017, pp3033--3037. Paper (pdf).
  • Rory Turnbull & Sharon Peperkamp. (2017). What governs a language’s lexicon? Determining the organizing principles of phonological neighbourhood networks. In Cherifi, H., Gaito, G., Quattrociocchi, W., & Sala, A. (eds.), Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Complex Networks and their Applications, pp83-–94. Paper (pdf).
  • Magnus Pharao Hansen, Néstor Hernández-Green, Rory Turnbull, & Ditte Boeg Thomsen. (2016). Life histories, language attitutdes and linguistic variation: Navigating the micro-politics of language revitalization in an Otomí community in Mexico. In Pérez-Báez, G., Rogers, C., & Rosés Labrada, J. E. (eds.), Language Documentation and Revitalization: Latin American Contexts, pp215--246. Paper (pdf).
  • Rachel Steindel Burdin, Rory Turnbull, & Cynthia G Clopper. (2015). Interactions among lexical and discourse characteristics in vowel production. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics (POMA), 22, 060005. Paper (pdf).
  • Rory Turnbull. (2015). Patterns of individual differences in reduction: Implications for listener-oriented theories. Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Paper (pdf).
  • Jeffrey J Holliday & Rory Turnbull. (2015). Effects of phonological neighborhood density on word production in Korean. Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Paper (pdf).
  • Rory Turnbull, Adam J Royer, Kiwako Ito, & Shari R Speer. (2014). Prominence perception in and out of context. Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Speech Prosody, p1164--1168. Paper (pdf).
  • Rory Turnbull & Cynthia G Clopper. (2013). Effects of semantic predictability and dialect variation on vowel production in clear and plain lab speech. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics (POMA), 19: 060116. Paper (pdf).
  • Richard Littauer, Rory Turnbull & Alexis Palmer. (2012). Visualising Typological Relationships: Plotting WALS with Heat Maps. Proceedings of the European Association of Computational Linguistics 2012 Workshop on the Visualization of Linguistic Patterns, p30--34. Paper (pdf).


You can email me at rory dot turnbull at hawaii dot edu.

My office is 559, Moore Hall. Office hours for Fall semester 2017 are Fridays 1:30pm-3:30pm. No appointment necessary, feel free drop by and say hi.