Zoe Fletcher

DPhil Graduate
A photograph of Zoe Fletcher


I finished my DPhil in General Linguistics and Comparative Linguistics at Oxford in 2020, having previously completed my MPhil here in 2015.

Prior to this, I completed my BA (Hons) in English Language and Linguistics at Sheffield University.

My DPhil thesis focused on finding out more about the fine phonetic cues available to listeners that go on to influence speech perception and phoneme categorisation. The speech stream is so variable, with no sound ever sounding the same more than once, so how do our brains categorise and interpret this?

My research focused specifically on quantity manipulation and the role of the lexicon in native and non-native English, and looked at the ways in which manipulating vowel duration in word and non-word pairs can cue a listener to perceive and categorise voiced or voiceless word-final consonants.

To do this, I worked with both native English and German participants to run six experiments including two production studies, three forced-choice identification tasks, and one lexical decision task. These experiments were run both at Oxford University and at Goethe University in Frankfurt.

The results proved conclusively that vowel duration is a primary perceptual cue for word-final voicing in English, and non-native speaker's sensitivity to this cue increases depending on both their exposure to English and their own underlying native phonology.