Public Release: 

John J. Ohala named recipient of the Silver Medal in Speech Communication

Acoustical Society of America Silver Medal in Speech Communication

Acoustical Society of America

Melville (NY), 8 October 2015--John J. Ohala, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, has been named recipient of the Acoustical Society of America's Silver Medal in Speech Communication for advancing the understanding of speech production and perception, and applying phonetic principles to the study of spoken language change over time. The award will be presented at the 170th meeting of the ASA on 4 November 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Silver Medal is presented to individuals for contributions to the advancement of science, engineering, or human welfare through the application of acoustic principles, or through research accomplishments in acoustics.

"I regard this award as encouragement to continue the application of speech science to an understanding of how and why pronunciation changes over the centuries and millennia and thus to be able to reconstruct the phonetic aspect of parent languages." said Ohala.

John Ohala received a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles. He joined the Department of Linguistics at UC, Berkeley as an Assistant Professor in 1970, earning full Professor status in 1977, and now serves as Professor Emeritus. Dr. Ohala is also Research Scientist at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley. Dr. Ohala studies the mechanisms making speech communication possible: anatomy, physiology, aerodynamics, acoustics, and perception. Additionally, he has used information from these areas to provide explanations for why pronunciation changes over the centuries and millennia, for example the basis for the historical relation between the pronunciations of camera and chamber, both ultimately from the Latin camera "room."

Dr. Ohala is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, the Linguistic Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Speech Communication Association. He was awarded a Ph.D, Honoris Causa from the University of Copenhagen and was honored as the subject of "A Century of Experimental Phonetics: Its History and Development from Théodore Rosset to John Ohala," organized by the Université Stendhal, Grenoble, France in 2005. He is author or coauthor of over 200 publications including journal articles, books, and book chapters.


The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America--the world's leading journal on acoustics, Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The Society also holds two major scientific meetings per year. For more information about the Society visit our website,

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