Staff Profile of Dr. Sarah Cooper

Dr. Sarah Cooper
Lecturer in Phonetics and Bilingualism
+44 (0)1248 388883
Room 204a, 37-41 College Road


I received my PhD in Linguistics from Bangor in 2015 after completing my undergraduate degree in the same subject in 2010. My PhD thesis focussed on the description and analysis of the Anglesey Welsh intonation system and was supervised by Prof. Ineke Mennen and Prof. Margaret Deuchar.

After completing my PhD, I worked on the GALLU Research Project in the Language Technologies Unit, Canolfan Bedwyr. The GALLU Project was jointly funded by the Welsh Government and S4C to develop further resources for speech recognition for the Welsh language.

I joined the School of Linguistics and English Language as a full time lecturer in September 2015 and I teach a range of modules on phonetics and bilingualism. The subjects I teach include introductory and intermediate phonetics, aspects of bilingualism, and the phonetics and phonology of second language acquisition (for further details, please consult the current timetable).

Research Interests

My primary research interests are in Welsh phonetics, bilingualism and language technologies for lesser resources languages.

I am currently working on a project focussing on how adults learn the sounds of Welsh. During data collection, adult learners of different abilities take part in a number of tasks (e.g. free speech, picture naming, dialogue reading, sentence reading). The pictures, dialogues and sentences involve sounds that could be difficult to Welsh learners from a British English background (e.g. <ll>, <ch>, <u>, <rh>).

I am interested in which factors influence how a Welsh learner produces the sounds (e.g. the age of the learner, the amount of exposure to Welsh outside of the classroom, how long the learner has been learning Welsh and their motivation towards learning Welsh), and how we can help learners overcome pronunciation difficulties to help them use Welsh more in their communities.

I still work closely with the Language Technologies Unit in Canolfan Bedwyr, and since the GALLU Project I have worked with them on further developing speech recognition and also developing an intelligent digital assistant for Welsh.

I welcome enquiries from students interested in pursuing a PhD in the above areas, especially in Welsh phonetics and bilingualism.

Selected publications in conference proceedings

Jones, D.B. & Cooper, S. (2016) Building Intelligent Digitial Assistants for Speakers of a Lesser-Resourced Language. p74-79 Proceedings of the LREC 2016 Workshop “CCURL 2016 – Towards an Alliance for Digital Language Diversity”, Claudia Soria, Laurette Pretorius, Thierry Declerck, Joseph Mariani, Kevin Scannell, Eveline Wandl-Vogt.

Cooper, S. (2015). Intonational signalling of sentence type in northern Welsh. Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2015). 10-14 August 2015, Glasgow.

Cooper, S.  Jones, D. B. & Prys, D. 2014. Developing further speech recognition resources for Welsh. In: Judge, J., Lynn, T., Ward, M. & Ó Raghallaigh, B. eds. Proceeedings of the First Celtic Language Technology Workshop at the 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING 2014), 23 August 2014, Dublin, Ireland. pp. 55-59.

Cooper, S. (2011). Frequency and loudness in overlapping turn onset by Welsh speakers. In Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Hong Kong, 4, pp. 516-519.

Conference presentations

Cooper, S & Davey, M. (2016) Exploring reading strategies in Welsh-English biliterate adults.  Poster presentation at the International Conference on Bilingualism in Education, June 10-12, 2016, Bangor, Wales.

Cooper, S. (2015) A resource for exploring socio-phonetic variation in Welsh: The Paldaruo Corpus. Oral presentation at the 15th International Congress of Celtic Studies, July 13-17, 2015, Glasgow, Scotland.

Cooper, S., Jones, D. B., Chan, D. & Prys, D. (2014) The GALLU project: developing speech recognition resources for Welsh. Oral presentation at the First Conference on Language Diversity in Wales, July 18-19, 2014, Aberystwyth, Wales.

Cooper, S & Mennen, I. (2014) Intonation in Anglesey Welsh. Oral presentation at the Twenty First Welsh Linguistics Seminar, July 16-17, 2014, Newtown, Wales.

Cooper, S & Mennen, I. (2014) The intonational encoding of interrogativity in Welsh. Poster presentation at the Colloquium of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, April 7-9, 2014, Oxford, England.

Goodchild, S., Prys, M., Cooper, S., Watson, R. & Cobbinah, A. (2013) New methods in the field and new data in the lab: research methods in multilingualism. Oral presentation at the Academic Day of Multilingualism Week at SOAS, June 17-22, 2013,  London, England.

Cooper, S & Carter, P. (2012) Testing for phonetic transfer in two Welsh speaking bilingual communities: Wales and Patagonia. Poster presentation at the International Conference: ‘Bilingual and Multilingual Interaction’. March 30-April 1, 2012, Bangor, Wales.

Carter, P. & Cooper, S. 2012. Variation in the acoustics of laterals in Welsh. Poster presentation at the Colloquium of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, March 26-28, 2012, Leeds, England.

Donnelly, K., Cooper, S., & Deuchar, M. 2011. Glossing CHAT files using the Bangor Auto-glosser. Oral Presentation at the 8th International Symposium for Bilingualism, June 15-18, 2011, Oslo, Norway.