Face-masked speech

The COVID-19 pandemic raised new questions about the impact of face-masks in speech communication.

Solidarity in Montreal must outlast COVID-19 | The McGill Tribune

Along with my collaborators, Dr. Georgia Zellou (UC Davis) and Dr. Anne Pycha (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), we are exploring the ways people adapt their speech when they wear a fabric face-mask.


  • (Cohn, Pycha & Zellou, 2021): When speakers produce ‘clear speech’ while wearing a face-mask, they are even better understood (by listeners) than when they produce ‘clear speech’ while unmasked.
  • This suggests that speakers preemptively make intelligibility adjustments for face-masks.

Press coverage:

  • In Focus [article]. “Speech Unmasked: UWM linguist studies how masks impact intelligibility” (3/2021)
  • CBS 58Milwaukee On-Air News Segment [article/video]. “Researchers look at how masks impact communication (3/18/21)
  • Equinox [article] “Unmask Masked Speech” (3/6/21)
  • US News & World Report [article] “As Mask-Wearing Prevails, People Are Adapting to Understanding Speech” (2/8/21)
  • Ladders [article] “This is how you can make masked conversations 100% more successful” (2/8/21)
  • WFMY Greensboro On-Air News Segment [article] [video] “What did you say? How masks affect your communication & understanding” (2/4/21)
Feb 4., 2021 WFMY coverage of our ‘Cognition’ paper. They did an “experiment” to test if listeners could tell if the host was wearing a mask or not.
  • KCBS San Francisco (106.9FM AND 740AM) Live Interview with Rebecca Corral [article] [recording] “UC Davis conducts study on how wearing a mask affects our speech patterns” (2/3/21)
  • CBS-13 Sacramento On-Air News Segment [article] [video] “UC Davis Study Finds Face Masks Do Not Impact Ability To Communicate” (2/2/21)
CBS-13 Sacramento covered our recent face-masked speech paper on Feb. 2, 2021
  • UC Davis Press Release [article] “Speaking and Listening Seem More Difficult in a Masked World, But People Are Adapting” (2/2/21)
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