On May 14th, Master's students at the "Speech Communication" department presented their research to Pr. James Kirby.
James Kirby is a specialist of experimental phonetics and leading expert on languages of East/Southeast Asia, working at the University of Edinburgh.

Nguyễn Thị Minh Châu (Vietnam National University & MICA) reported her initial contact with fieldwork in the province of Phú Thọ: she is beginning an in-depth phonetic-phonological study of the Mường language, with special emphasis on tone. 
Presentation by Nguyễn Thị Minh Châu, VNU / MICA
Two students of Yunnan University who accompanied Alexis Michaud to conduct fieldwork in Yunnan in 2014, and who are currently doing a two-month internship at MICA, presented their initial findings. William Ji presented "An Elusive Two-level Tone System: Shekua Na". He is establishing the underlying lexical tone categories of a dialect that has two level tones (as opposed to three in the better-described varieties, Lijiang Naxi and Yongning Na). He uses classical phonological fieldwork methods, studying tone change in combinations of words. He considers learning to speak this language; he would thus be the first outsider (non-native speaker) to master the rich tonal morphology of this dialect. A Hui, a native speaker of Shekua Na, and William Ji's main consultant, explores the phonetic side of tones in the Na language. She compares the realizations of one and the same phonological tone category in various contexts, to bring out the principles that govern the phonetic realization of various tone sequences.
Group photo. From right to left: Trần Đỗ Đạt, James Kirby, Nguyễn Thị Minh Châu, A Hui, William Ji, Alexis Michaud
Nguyễn Tiến Thành (MICA - HUST) gave a demo of the computer toolkit VowelQuest, which he programmed in late 2014. VowelQuest allows the user to pinpoint vowels in the acoustic space, by identifying what constitutes aurally the best fit to each of the vowels in their language. The tool provides as output the list of formant frequencies that correspond to these perceptually identified vowels.

The Institute is grateful to James Kirby for volunteering a whole afternoon of his time (despite the tight schedule of his trip to Vietnam, which includes intensive fieldwork in the province of Cao Bằng) to give MA students this great opportunity of scientific exchanges.
James Kirby with MICA Director Nguyễn Việt Sơn