Dr. Sonya Bird

Dr. Sonya Bird
Associate Professor
Office: Clearihue D359
Area of expertise

Phonetics, language revitalization

Sonya Bird received her BA Honours in Linguistics from the University of British Columbia (1993-1996) and then completed her MA and PhD at the University of Arizona (1997-2002). Her dissertation was on the phonetics and phonology of intervocalic consonants in the Lheidli dialect of Dakelh (Carrier), a Dene language spoken in British Columbia. After finishing her PhD, she returned to UBC as a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow to study the phonetic properties of glottalised resonants in St’át’imcets (Lillooet), an Interior Salish language also spoken in British Columbia (2002-2004). She joined the Department of Linguistics at the University of Victoria in 2004 and established the Speech Research Lab in 2007, supported by funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

Dr. Bird’s research combines Phonetics with Indigenous Language Documentation and Revitalization. She is particularly interested in the role of pronunciation and oral fluency in Indigenous Language Revitalization. Thanks to a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2018-2023) and in collaboration with the Hul’q’umi’num’ Language & Culture Society, her recent work has focused on speech production and perception among Hul’q’umi’num’ speakers of different ages and proficiency levels. The goals are to (1) document the pronunciation details of Hul’q’umi’num’ across speakers, (2) understand what the challenges are for learners, and (3) help design tools and resources to overcome these challenges, with a focus on tools that incorporate “speech visualization” and phonetic analysis. Activities made possible by the SSHRC PDG can be found on the Hwulmuhwqun ~ xʷəlməxʷqən Pronunciation Lab website.

Dr. Bird has also been involved in supporting UVic’s undergraduate and graduate programs in Indigenous Language Revitalization. Since 2016, she has participated in designing and delivering the Masters in Indigenous Language Revitalization (MILR) program, offered jointly by the Departments of Linguistics and Indigenous Education, for which she acted as Graduate Advisor in 2020-22. Since 2022, she has been the Academic Advisor of the (undergraduate) Certificate in Indigenous Language Revitalization program.


 Sonya Bird’s Faces of UVic Research video

Selected Works

Selected Publications

Bird, Sonya & Sky Onosson (2022). A phonetic case study of Tŝilhqot’in /z/ and /zʕ/. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 1-34.

Bird, Sonya, Janet Leonard & Tess Nolan (2022). Pronunciation patterns among L2 Hul’q’umi’num’ learners: Preliminary findings and future directions. Proceedings of PSLLT 2021

Bird, Sonya & Natallia Litvin (2020). Belarusian. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 51(3): 450-467.

Bird, Sonya (2020). Pronunciation among Adult Indigenous Language Learners: The case of SENĆOŦEN /t’/. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation, 6(2): 148-179.

Bird Sonya & Bryan Gick (2019). Ultrasound biofeedback in pronunciation teaching and learning. Proceedings of ISAPh 2018, 5-11.

Bird, Sonya & Mizuki Miyashita (2019). Teaching phonetics in the context of Indigenous Language Revitalization. Proceedings of ISAPh 2018, 39-44). 

Bird, Sonya (2018). Phonetics in the context of language revitalization: Exploring pronunciation strategies. In Lisa Matthewson, Erin Guntly & Michael Rochement (Eds), Wa7 xweysás i nqwal’utteníha i ucwalmícwa: He loves the people’s languages. Essays in honour of Henry Davis. Vancouver, BC: UBC Occasional Papers in Linguistics volume 6.

Bliss, Heather, Sonya Bird, Bryan Gick, Strang Burton, and Ashley Cooper (2018). Seeing speech: Ultrasound-based multimedia resources for pronunciation learning in Indigenous languages. Language Documentation & Conservation 12: 315-338.

Bird, Sonya & Sarah Kell (2017). The role of pronunciation in SENĆOŦEN language revitalization. Canadian Modern Language Review 73(4): 538-569.

Bird, Sonya & Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins (2016). Chapter 10: Parsing Salish consonant clusters. In Martin Ball & Nicole Müller (Eds), Challenging Sonority: Cross-linguistic Evidence (pp. 159-199). Sheffield, UK: Equinox Publishing Home.

Bird, S. (2011) The nature of laryngealization in St'at'imcets laryngealized resonants. International Journal of American Linguistics 77(2): 159-184.

Bird, S. & J. Leonard (2009). The universality of articulatory conflict-resolution. Evidence from Salish languages. Northwest Journal of Linguistics 3(2): 159-184.

Bird, S., M. Caldecott, F. Campbell, B. Gick & P. Shaw (2008). Oral-laryngeal timing in glottalized resonant. Journal of Phonetics 36: 492 -507.

Bird, S. (2008). An Exemplar Dynamic approach to language shift. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 53 (2/3): 1001-1012.

Bird, S. and B. Gick (2005). Field methods in phonetics. In K. Brown (ed), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition, Oxford: Elsevier, 1-5.

Gick, B., S. Bird and I. Wilson (2005). Techniques for field application of lingual ultrasound imaging.  Journal of Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics 19(6-7): 503-514.

Bird, S. (2004) Lheidli intervocalic consonants: Phonetic and morphological effects.  Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34(1): 69-91.


Bird, S. 2002. The phonetics and phonology of Lheidli intervocalic consonants. Doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ.