Senior Researcher


My research focuses on the phonetics and phonology interface, especially with regard to African languages containing contrastive phonation types on vowels, and non-pulmonic consonants (clicks, ejectives and labial-velars with non-pulmonic airstream mechanisms).

Specific Research Projects

Phonotactics of African click langauges

I have described and proposed theoretical analyses of a number of phonotactic constraints in Ju|’hoansi, N|uu and Mangetti Dune !Xung. Most notably, is a Guttural OCP constraint in these languages, which rule out the co-occurrence of guttural consonants and vowels within a root.

Another important constraint that I have worked on extensively is “The Back Vowel Constraint.” This constraint captures the C-V Co-occurrence restriction that holds between clicks and uvular consonants and front vowels, and results in an [ai] allophone of [i] after alveolar and lateral clicks, as well as uvular fricatives and uvularized consonants.

My student, Johanna Brugman, investigated the distribution of segments and tones in the Namibian language Khoekhoe in her Cornell dissertation.

Guttural Vowels and Guttural Coarticulation: Phonetic Bases of the Guttural OCP

I have investigated “Guttural coarticulation” by looking at voice quality cues associated with consonants with distinct guttural (pharyngeal, uvular and laryngeal) release properties.

By comparing the timing of guttural coarticulation to voice quality cues associated with guttural vowels in Ju|’hoansi, I was able to show that the timing of the two sets of VQ cues on the vowel of CVV syllables is similar.

Based on this, I have proposed that the acoustic (and thus likely perceptual) basis of the Guttural OCP in the language is the similar time-course of VQ cues associated with partially guttural vowels and vowels following guttural consonants, via guttural coarticulation.

Ultrasound Investigations of Consonant Dynamics

I have developed an ultrasound method called CHAUSA (Corrected High Frame Rate Anchored Ultrasound with Software Alignment) that allows me to collect high spatial quality images of the entire tongue at frame rates over 100 fps synchronized with the acoustic signal that has less than 1 mm of error, and can be used in both the laboratory and the field, to investigate the dynamics of consonants The CHAUSA page provides more information about this method, and the kinds of speech studies that can be done using this method.

Description of the Production of New Click Types

I am in the process of describing two new click types that occur in the Kx’a family (formerly known as the Northern Khoisan branch of the Khoisan family). The first is a post-alveolar laminal click in Ekoka !Xung, which was originally described as a retroflex click by Christa Koenig and Bernd Heine.  The second is a true retroflex click that occurs in Grootfontein !Xung. I am using HFR ultrasound (114 fps) and acoustic measures to fully describe these consonants, and their dynamics.

Dynamics of Coronal Click Consonants

I have described the posterior gestures in the four coronal click types in Mangetti Dune !Xung, and am also working on the dynamics of the tongue body lowering gestures that contribute to rarefaction (decrease in pressure in the lingual cavity).

Dynamics of Pulmonic Obstruents

I am investigating the dynamics of the velar plosive and the uvular fricative before [i] and [a] in Mangetti Dune !Xung, and I supervised an undergraduate thesis by Vicki Lynn Krebs on the articulation and acoustics of fricatives and approximants in that language.

Estimating Cavity Volume in Click Consonants

In some consonants, the volume of the cavity in front of the constriction seems to be as important as the place of the constriction in determining the acoustic properties of these sounds. For example, in the sibilant post-alveolar fricative, a sublingual cavity enlarges the front cavity, as does concomittant lip rounding for some speakers.

In click consonats, it is the volume of the lingual cavity between the anterior and posterior constrictions that determines the properties of the click bursts (e.g. the anterior release bursts).

I have modeled the 3D cavity volume in clicks by combining palatographic data (to estimate the width and side margins of the cavity), mid-sagittal ultrasound data (to estimate the floor of the cavity) and scans of 3D palate casts (to estimate the roof of the cavity). This model can estimate changes in cavity volume over the course of production of the different click types. The change in cavity volume is expected to correlate with loudness, while the volume of the cavity just prior to the release of the anterior constriction is expected to correlate with the center of gravity or other measures of the spectral properties of the click bursts.

Click detection and recognition

I am currently working with Micha Elsner to automatically detect clicks in the acoustic signal in connected speech, and to test the separability of the four click types in Mangetti Dune !Xung traditional folktales.  I will be presenting our paper titled Click reduction in fluent speech: a semi-automated analysis of Mangetti Dune !Xung at the upcoming 2nd Computational Methods for Endangered Languages Workshop to be held at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on March 6th and 7th, 2017.

Language Documentation

I have collaborated with Levi Namaseb at the University of Namibia, and members of the Ju|’hoan transcription group to train two !Xung speakers (Christine Augumes and David Prata) to record, transcribe and translate the oral literature from the elder speakers of Mangetti Dune !Xung. The products of this project are available at the Endangered Languages Archive. This project was funded by a small grant from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme.


Linguistics 2000, 2000(H). Introduction to Linguistics

Linguistics 2051. Analyzing the Sounds of a Language (Basic probability and statistics using speech data)

Linguistics 4100. Introduction to Phonetics

Linguistics 4300. Introduction to Phonology

Linguistics 5101. Phonetics: Phonetic Theory

Linuistics 5551. Field Methods I


Miller, Amanda L. (2016). Posterior lingual gestures and tongue shape in Mangetti Dune !Xung clicks. Journal of

             Phonetics 55, 119-148.

Miller, Amanda. L. (2012). Northern Khoesan Phonetics and Phonology. In Vossen, Rainer, Ed. The Khoesan languages, pp. 45-50.

Miller, Amanda L. (2012). Northern Khoesan Tonology. In Vossen, Rainer, Ed. The Khoesan languages, pp. 92-96.

Miller, Amanda L. (2012). Southern Khoesan Tonology. In Vossen, Rainer, Ed. The Khoesan languages.

Miller, Amanda L. (2012). Namibian Ju|’hoansi in contact with Afrikaans. In Vossen, Rainer, Ed. The Khoesan languages, pp. 460-461.

Miller, Amanda and Kenneth B. Finch. (2011). Corrected High Frame Rate Anchored Ultrasound with Software Alignment. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research 54, 2, 471-486.

Miller, A. (2011). The Representation of Clicks. In van Oostendorp, M., Ewen, C. Hume, E. and Rice, K. (Eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Phonology Vol. 1.1. Blackwell Reference Online. 24 October 2012.

Miller, A. (2010) Tongue Body and Tongue Root Shape Differences in N|uu clicks Correlate with Phonotactic Patterns, In Fuchs, S., Toda, M. and Zygis, M. (eds.),Turbulent sounds: An Interdisciplinary Guide, Interfaces in Linguistics Series, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter, 245-280.

Miller, A. (2010) A Prosodic Account of Ju|’hoansi consonant distribution patterns, In Brenzinger, M. and König, C., (eds.), Khoisan Languages and Linguistics: Proceedings of the 1st International Symposium, January 4-8, 2003, Riezlern / Kleinwalsertal. Research in Khoisan Studies 24, Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, 40-73.

Miller, A., Brugman, J., Sands, B., Namaseb, L., Exter, M. and Collins, C. (2009). Differences in Airstream and Posterior Place of Articulation among N|uu clicks. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 39, 2, 129-161. LISTEN TO SOUNDS

Miller, A. (2008). Click Cavity Formation and Dissolution in IsiXhosa: Viewing Clicks with High-Speed Ultrasound. In Sock, R., Fuchs, S. & Y. Laprie, (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Seminar on Speech Production, December 2008, Pp. 137-140.

Miller, Amanda, Johanna Brugman, Bonny Sands, Levi Namaseb, Mats Exter, and Chris Collins. (2007). The sounds of Nǀuu: Place and airstream contrasts. Working Papers of the Cornell Phonetics Laboratory, 16:101-160.

Sands, Bonny, Johanna Brugman, Mats Exter, Levi Namaseb, and Amanda Miller. (2007). Articulatory characteristics of anterior click closures in Nǀuu. In Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Jürgen Trouvain and William J. Barry (Eds.). (pp.401-404).

Miller, Amanda, Johanna Brugman and Bonny Sands. (2007). Acoustic and auditory analysis of Nǀuu lingual and linguo-pulmonic stop bursts. In Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Jürgen Trouvain and William J. Barry (Eds.). (pp.769-772).

Miller, A. L. Namaseb and K. Iskarous (2007). Posterior Tongue Body Constriction Locations in Clicks. In Cole,J. and Hualde, J., Eds. Laboratory Phonology 9. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 643-656.

Sands, Bonny, Amanda Miller and Johanna Brugman. (2007). The lexicon in language attrition: The case of Nǀuu. In Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, Doris Payne and Jaime Peña (Eds.). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. (pp. 55-65).

Miller-Ockhuizen, A. (2003). The Phonetics and Phonology of Gutturals: A Case Study from Ju|’hoansi. Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics Series  (Laurence Horn, Ed.). New York: Routledge.

Miller-Ockhuizen, A. and Zec, D. (2003). Acoustics of Serbian palatal affricates predict phonological patterning. Proceedings of the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences., (Sole, M-J., Recasens, D. and Romero, J. Eds.)  Rundle Mall: Causal Publications, Pp. 3101-3104.

Miller-Ockhuizen, A. and Zec, D. (2003). Phonetics and Phonology of Contrastive Palatal affricates. Working Papers of the Cornell Phonetics Laboratory 2003, v.15, pp.130-193

Miller-Ockhuizen, A. and Sands, B. (1999). !Kung as a Linguistic Çonstruct. Language and Communication 19/4, June 1999, 401-413.

Miller-Ockhuizen, A. (1999) Reduplication in Ju|’hoansi: Tone determines Weight, In Proceedings of NELS 29 (Hirotani, M. Ed.), Amherst: University of Massachussetts Occasional Papers, Pp. 261-276.

Miller-Ockhuizen, A. (1998) Towards a unified decompositional analysis of Khoisan Lexical Tone, In Schladt, M., (ed.) Language, Identity, and Conceptualization among the Khoisan, Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, 217-243.

Student Theses

Krebs, Vicki Lynn (2014).An Articulatory and Acoustic Description of Word Initial and Word Medial

Fricatives and Approximants in Mangetti Dune !Xung. BA Thesis. The Ohio State University.

Brugman, Johanna. (2009). Segments, tones and Distribution in Khoekhoe prosody. Ph.D. Dissertation. Cornell University.