Cynthia G. Clopper

Headshot of Cynthia G. Clopper
Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor
Department of Linguistics
Ohio State University

306 Oxley Hall
Phone: (614) 292-8235
clopper.1 AT


Oxley Hall 100
1712 Neil Avenue
Columbus OH 43210


Office Hours:
by appointment

Recent Publications

COSI Pod IRB Information

Research Projects
My primary research interest is the role of variation in spoken language processing.

Effects of Geographic Mobility on Lexical Processing and Perceptual Adaptation
My current major project is an exploration and refinement of Clopper and Walker's (2017) proposal that geographic mobility contributes to changes in lexical processing dynamics, in which mobile listeners consider more lexical competitors over a longer period of time than non-mobile listeners. The project addresses (1) the specificity of the processing mechanism underlying the differences in lexical processing dynamics between geographically mobile and non-mobile listeners; (2) the nature and timing of dialect exposure that is required to observe changes in lexical processing dynamics; and (3) the implications of geographic mobility for short-term perceptual adaptation to novel variation. (Supported by the National Science Foundation BCS 1843454.)

Effects of Linguistic and Indexical Sources of Variation on Speech Processing
A second major long-term project examines the combined effects and interactions among linguistic and indexical sources of variation on speech processing. One branch of my work in this area explores the interactions among phonetic reduction, dialect variation, and linguistic sources of variation, including lexical competition and semantic context, in speech production and perception. The other branch examines the effects of experience with linguistic variation on cross-dialect speech perception and processing. Many of my experiments involve speech samples from The Nationwide Speech Project Corpus and the Ohio State Stories Corpus. (Partially supported by the National Science Foundation BCS 1056409.)

Perception of Socio-Indexical Information Across the Lifespan
In collaboration with Dr. Laura Wagner in the Department of Psychology at Ohio State, I have extended my earlier work on perceptual dialect classification to children as young as four years old. Our research uses explicit classification, language attitudes, and cross-dialect intelligibility tasks to explore when children perceive and interpret information in the acoustic speech signal to make judgments about social categories, such as region of origin, and how the perception of regional dialect variation changes over the course of the lifespan. The results of this project are available on the ORDDR Project website. (Partially supported by a Seed Grant from the Ohio State Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences.)

Prosodic Variation in American English
In collaboration with Dr. Rajka Smiljanic in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Texas, I am working on an examination of regional prosodic variation in American English, including intonation and temporal organization. (Partially supported by a Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women Faculty Grant.)

Research Opportunities for Undergraduates
Waveform of an utterance of the word cow Undergraduate research assistants are always welcome in my Speech Perception Lab. Students can earn credit in LLING 4998(H) (Undergraduate Research) for work in the lab. Paid positions are also sometimes available. Students do not need to be a linguistics major to work in the lab, but some coursework in linguistics or a related field (speech and hearing science, psychology, cognitive science) is preferred. If you are interested in working on any of the projects described above, please contact me to discuss research opportunities.

Arts and Sciences 1138, First-Year Seminar (Recent Topics: The Long and the Short of It, Famous Voices)
Linguistics 2051(H), Analyzing the Sounds of Language
Linguistics 4100, Introduction to Phonetics
Linguistics 5051, Quantitative Methods in Linguistics
Linguistics 5101, Phonetic Theory
Linguistics 5102, Laboratory Phonology
Linguistics 7890.03, Phonetics and Phonology Discussion Group (Phonies)
Linguistics 7890.10, Writing Workshop (Recent Topics: Research Proposals, Journal Articles)
Linguistics 8100, Seminar in Phonetics (Recent Topics: Talker Variability, Second Language Phonetics and Phonology, Prosody and Meaning)
Linguistics 8300, Seminar in Phonology (Recent Topic: Exemplar-Theoretic Representation in Phonetics and Phonology)

Recent Publications
Napoli, E. R., & Clopper, C. G. (2024) The targetedness of English schwa: Evidence from schwa-initial minimal pairs. Languages, 9(130), 1-21.

Bent, T., Lind-Combs, H., Holt, R. F., & Clopper, C. G. (2023). Perception of regional and nonnative accents: A comparison of museum laboratory and online data collection. Linguistics Vanguard, 9, 361-373.

Clopper, C. G., Burdin, R. S., & Turnbull, R. (2023). Second dialect acquisition and phonetic vowel reduction in the American Midwest. Journal of Phonetics, 99(101243), 1-18.

Dossey, E., Jones, Z., & Clopper, C. G. (2023). Relative contributions of social, contextual, and lexical factors in speech processing. Language and Speech, 66, 322-353.

Clopper, C. G., & McCullough, E. A. (2021). More than just methods: Data and insights guide vowel acoustics research. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 150, R9-R10.

Ross, J. P., Lilley, K. D., Clopper, C. G., Pardo, J. S., & Levi, S. V. (2021). Effects of dialect-specific features and familiarity on cross-dialect phonetic convergence. Journal of Phonetics, 86(101041), 1-23.

Alcorn. S., Meemann, K., Clopper, C. G., & Smiljanic, R. (2020). Acoustic cues and linguistic experience as factors in regional dialect classification. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147, 657-670.

Clopper, C. G., & Dossey, E. (2020). Phonetic convergence to Southern American English: Acoustics and perception. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147, 671-683.

Clopper, C. G., Burdin, R. S., & Turnbull, R. (2019). Variation in /u/ fronting in the American Midwest. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 146, 233-244.

Jones, Z., & Clopper, C. G. (2019). Subphonemic variation and lexical processing: Social and stylistic factors. Phonetica, 76, 163-178.

McCullough, E. A., Clopper, C. G., & Wagner, L. (2019). Regional dialect perception across the lifespan: Identification and discrimination. Language and Speech, 62, 115-136.

Clopper, C. G., Turnbull, R., & Burdin, R. S. (2018). Assessing predictability effects in connected read speech. Linguistics Vanguard, 4(S2), 20170044.

Clopper, C. G. (2017). Dialect interference in lexical processing: Effects of familiarity and social stereotypes. Phonetica, 74, 25-59.

Clopper, C. G., Mitsch, J. F., & Tamati, T. N. (2017). Effects of phonetic reduction and regional dialect on vowel production. Journal of Phonetics, 60, 38-59.

Clopper, C. G., & Walker, A. (2017). Effects of lexical competition and dialect exposure on phonological priming. Language and Speech, 60, 85-109.

Jones, Z., Yan, Q., Wagner, L., & Clopper, C. G. (2017). The development of dialect classification across the lifespan. Journal of Phonetics, 60, 20-37.

Adi, Y., Keshet, J., Cibelli, E., Gustafson, E., Clopper, C., & Goldrick, M. (2016). Automatic measurement of vowel duration via structured prediction. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 140, 4517-4527.

Clopper, C. G., Tamati, T. N., & Pierrehumbert, J. B. (2016). Variation in the strength of lexical encoding across dialects. Journal of Phonetics, 58, 87-103.

McCullough, E. A., & Clopper, C. G. (2016). Auditory free classification of words and syllables in native and non-native English. Journal of Phonetics, 55, 19-37.

Burdin, R. S., Phillips-Bourass, S., Turnbull, R., Yasavul, M., Clopper, C. G., & Tonhauser, J. (2015). Variation in the prosody of focus in head- and head/edge-prominence languages. Lingua, 165, 254-276.

Clopper, C. G., & Smiljanic, R. (2015). Regional variation in temporal organization in American English. Journal of Phonetics, 49, 1-15.

Turnbull, R., Burdin, R. S., Clopper, C. G., & Tonhauser, J. (2015). Contextual information and the prosodic realisation of focus: A cross-linguistic comparison. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 30, 1061-1076.

Wagner, L., Speer, S. R., Moore, L. C., McCullough, E. A., Ito, K., Clopper, C. G., & Campbell-Kibler, K. (2015). Linguistics in a science museum: Integrating research, teaching, and outreach at the Language Sciences Research Lab. Language and Linguistics Compass, 9, 420-431.

Short Bio
Cynthia G. Clopper received a B.A. in Linguistics and Russian from Duke University in 1999, an M.A. in Linguistics from Indiana University in 2001, and a Ph.D. in Linguistics and Cognitive Science from Indiana University in 2004. She spent one year as a postdoctoral researcher in Psychology at Indiana University and one year as a postdoctoral fellow in Linguistics at Northwestern University, both funded by the National Institutes of Health, before joining the faculty at Ohio State in 2006. Her major areas of expertise are phonetics, speech perception, sociophonetics, and laboratory phonology. She is currently co-editor of Language and Speech and has served on the editorial boards for the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America and the Journal of Phonetics.

Current CV (updated 6/10/24)

Non-Academic Interests
When I'm not doing research, I enjoy traveling. My most recent travel adventures have taken me to Lisbon, Philadelphia, and Mackinac Island.

I'm also a college basketball junkie. I follow Duke basketball with a passion, but I'll watch pretty much any game at the college level.