Producing American English Vowels During Vocal Tract Growth: A Perceptual Categorization Study of Synthesized Vowels PurposeTo consider interactions of vocal tract change with growth and perceived output patterns across development, the influence of nonuniform vocal tract growth on the ability to reach acoustic–perceptual targets for English vowels was studied.MethodThirty-seven American English speakers participated in a perceptual categorization experiment. For the experiment, an articulatory-to-acoustic model was ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2009
Producing American English Vowels During Vocal Tract Growth: A Perceptual Categorization Study of Synthesized Vowels
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Lucie Ménard, Département de Linguistique et Didactique des Langues, Université du Québec à Montréal, Case Postale 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montreal, Quebec H3C 3P8, Canada. E-mail: menard.lucie@uqam.ca.
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article   |   October 01, 2009
Producing American English Vowels During Vocal Tract Growth: A Perceptual Categorization Study of Synthesized Vowels
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2009, Vol. 52, 1268-1285. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0008)
History: Received January 9, 2008 , Accepted December 10, 2008
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2009, Vol. 52, 1268-1285. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0008)
History: Received January 9, 2008; Accepted December 10, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 6

PurposeTo consider interactions of vocal tract change with growth and perceived output patterns across development, the influence of nonuniform vocal tract growth on the ability to reach acoustic–perceptual targets for English vowels was studied.

MethodThirty-seven American English speakers participated in a perceptual categorization experiment. For the experiment, an articulatory-to-acoustic model was used to synthesize 342 five-formant vowels, covering maximal vowel spaces for speakers at 5 growth stages (from 6 months old to adult).

ResultsResults indicate that the 3 vowels /i u æ/ can be correctly perceived by adult listeners when produced by speakers with a 6-month-old vocal tract. Articulatory-to-acoustic relationships for these 3 vowels differ across growth stages. For a given perceived vowel category, the infant’s tongue position is more fronted than the adult’s. Furthermore, nonuniform vocal tract growth influences degree of interarticulator coupling for a given perceived vowel, leading to a reduced correlation between jaw height and tongue body position in infantlike compared with adult vocal tracts.

ConclusionFindings suggest that nonuniform vocal tract growth does not prevent the speaker from producing acoustic–auditory targets related to American English vowels. However, the relationships between articulatory configurations and perceptual targets change from birth to adulthood.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada,and the Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture. We are grateful to Jean-Luc Schwartz for his insightful comments and to Zofia Laubitz for copyediting the article.
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