Dr. John Esling

Dr. John  Esling
Professor Emeritus
Area of expertise


John H. Esling is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Victoria, former Secretary of the International Phonetic Association (1995-2003), member of the IPA Council and of the Permanent Council for the Organization of International Congresses of Phonetic Science, former Editor of the Journal of the International Phonetic Association (2003-2011), and President of the International Phonetic Association (2011-2015). He has an MA in Linguistics from the University of Michigan (1972), where he studied with Ian Catford and Kenneth Pike, and a PhD in Phonetics from the University of Edinburgh, where he worked with David Abercrombie, John Laver, and James (Tony) Anthony. He taught at the University of Leeds before moving to the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, in 1981. He was Chair of the Department of Linguistics from 2008 to 2013. His research is in auditory and articulatory phonetics, particularly the categorization of voice quality, of vocal register, and of the phonetic production and modelling of laryngeal and pharyngeal sounds. He is the principal investigator on two research projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: the Laryngoscopic Phonetic Research Project, to investigate speech articulation in the throat, and the Infant Speech Acquisition (InSpA) Project, an international collaboration based in Victoria with research teams in Canada, France, Morocco and China, to establish how infants first acquire the modality of phonetic speech-sound production. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he is the author of over 100 scholarly articles and chapters and of numerous conference presentations, compiler of the University of Victoria Phonetic Database, section editor for Phonetics of the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2006), an editor of the Handbook of the IPA (CUP 1999), and an editor of the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (CUP, 2011). He has collaborated with Prof. Jerry Edmondson and with the late Jimmy G. Harris in producing endoscopic videos to catalogue speech production in the larynx/pharynx among the languages of the world. He participated in the development of the iPA Phonetics iOS app (2014), illustrating auditorily and visually the range of speech sounds and voice qualities in the world’s languages. He is the author of Voice Quality: The Laryngeal Articulator Model (Cambridge University Press, 2019), which won the 2021 Linguistic Society of America Leonard Bloomfield Book Award.

Selected publications.