Chenzi Xu

Chenzi Xu

DPhil Student in Linguistics

University of Oxford

I’m a DPhil student in Linguistics at the University of Oxford and I specialise in phonetics. Speech sounds of all kinds never fail to fascinate me. Abundant information ranging from lexical meanings and discourse structure to emotions, attitudes, and speaker identity is ubiquitous in speech. I’m interested in exploring the ways different layers of meanings encode in speech.

The vast variation and fuzzy boundaries of speech sounds can be daunting, but reveal that quantitative methods are conducive to representing and analysing sounds. I’m keen in experimental and computational approaches to phonetic research.


  • Voice quality
  • Prosody
  • Neutral tone
  • Speech perception
  • Plastic Mandarin


  • DPhil in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology, 2018-present

    University of Oxford

  • MPhil (Distinction) in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology, 2016-2018

    University of Oxford

  • BA (First Class Honours) in English Studies for the Professions Minor in Translation and Bilingual Communication, 2012-2016

    The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

  • University of California Education Abroad Progamme, 2015

    University of California, Berkeley

More about me

Before my journey at Oxford, I spent half a year at the University of California, Berkeley for academic exchange and about 4 years in Hong Kong completing my undergraduate programme in broad discipline of language, culture, and communication at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Growing up in a mountainous region in China, I was surrounded by a variety of Xiang dialects from an early age. When I was a child, mimicking different dialects was of great fun. It seems, however, the rise of Mandarin has been overshadowing many local dialects. Meanwhile, new regional Mandarin accents are emerging too. I am enthusiastic about maintaining language diversity and probing the social meanings of language varieties. I have been working on a Plastic Mandarin project and conducted fieldwork collecting speech data from urban high school students in Changsha, Hunan, China.

I worked as an intern at a tech start-up Mo Intelligence Ltd, during which I developed skills in building Android phone apps and some experience in speech technology including speech-to-text and speaker identification.

I enjoy films and gain energy from travels. Painting and cooking without a recipe are relaxing for me. Hiking, Bachata dance, and yoga are my nourishing activities. I am learning piano by myself and exploring how to take better photographs using my camera. As a child I aspired to be a writer, but unfortunately my blog is still quite empty without any updates for years.



Research Assistant

Language and Brain Lab, University of Oxford

Oct 2019 – Present Oxford
  • Working for the MORPHON project supervised by Professor Aditi Lahiri;
  • Examined the pre-attentive processing (MMN) of consonant length and differences in place of articulation in [CORONAL] fricatives in Mandarin using EEG.
  • Processed over 1000 Bengali utterances for intonation research.

Research Assistant

Phonetics Laboratory, University of Oxford

Oct 2019 – Oct 2021 Oxford
  • Working for the English and Multilingualism project supervised by Dr Elinor Payne and Dr Olga Maxwell;
  • Recruited participants, and collected audio recordings, perception experiment data, and questionnaire data online from 60 participants during lockdown;
  • Cleaned, collated, and coded the data for further analysis.

Software Engineer

Mo Intelligence Ltd

Nov 2018 – May 2019 Oxford
  • Built user interface for Android apps using Android Studio;
  • Prepared audio training data to improve machine learning algorithms of speaker identification;
  • Prepared demo materials including videos and Android mobile apps.


St Edmund Hall, Middle Common Room (MCR)

Nov 2018 – May 2019 Oxford
  • Liaised with the MCR committee members to set termly and events budgets, and with college for battels;
  • Administered MCR Blues Fund, MCR Charity Fund, and MCR 50th Anniversary Academic Grant;
  • Managed the MCR bank accounts and financial matters such as purchasing and reimbursements, and recorded all expenditure.


Software Carpentry Workshop

Software Carpentry aims to help researchers get their work done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic research computing skills. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

Linear Mixed Effects Models in R

Lab Skills Workshop Week 5 Hilary Term. This workshop introduces you to linear mixed effects models in R. It is decidedly conceptual without too much mathematical proofs or equations involved. We will focus on understanding the model through analysing two datasets and building up linear modeling workflow in R.

Introduction to Praat and Praat scripting

Lab Skills Workshop Week 3 Hilary Term. This workshop serves as a boot camp guiding you to start your phonetic analyses using Praat. Instead of listing out how to perform specific functions, it focuses on introducing a sustainable workflow that bootstraps our knowledge to start our own analyses as quickly as possible.

Experiment Design, Research Methods Seminar

An introduction to experiment design, for postgraduate students.

Phonetics and Phonology

An introduction to articulatory and acoustic phonetics, and phonological theories at the undergraduate level.


  • Phonetics Laboratory, 41 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JF
  • Monday 10:00 to 13:00
    Wednesday 10:00 to 13:00
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