Seeing Speech: Ultrasound-based Multimedia Resources for Pronunciation Learning in Indigenous Languages




Bliss, Heather
Bird, Sonya
Cooper, PEPAḴIYE Ashley
Burton, Strang
Gick, Bryan

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Language Documentation & Conservation


Pronunciation is an important aspect of Indigenous language learning, and one which requires creative community-oriented solutions. Towards this end, we have developed a pronunciation learning tool that incorporates ultrasound technology to give learners a visual aid to help them articulate unfamiliar and/or challenging sounds. Ultrasound is used to create videos of a model speaker’s tongue movements during speech, which are then overlaid on videos of an external profile view of the model’s head to create ultrasound-enhanced pronunciation videos for individual words or sounds. A key advantage of these videos is that learners are able see how speech is produced rather than just hear and try to mimic it. Although ultrasound-enhanced videos were originally developed for commonly taught languages such as Japanese and French, there has been widespread interest from Indigenous communities in Western Canada to develop their own customized videos. This paper reports on three collaborations between linguists and communities in British Columbia to develop ultrasound-enhanced videos for the SENĆOŦEN, Secwepemc, and Halq’emeylem languages. These videos can give learners a new way to learn pronunciation that focuses on seeing speech, and can create new documentation of understudied sound systems for future generations.



pronunciation learning tools, Salishan languages, Indigenous languages, language documentation


Bliss, H., Bird, S., Cooper, P. A., Burton, S., & Gick, B. (2018). Seeing Speech: Ultrasound-based Multimedia Resources for Pronunciation Learning in Indigenous Languages, Language Documentation & Conservation (12).