Predicting Midsagittal Pharynx Shape From Tongue Position During Vowel Production The shape of the pharynx has a large effect on the acoustics of vowels, but direct measurement of this part of the vocal tract is difficult. The present study examines the efficacy of inferring midsagittal pharynx shape from the position of the tongue, which is much more amenable to measurement. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1999
Predicting Midsagittal Pharynx Shape From Tongue Position During Vowel Production
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • D. H. Whalen
    Haskins Laboratories New Haven, CT
  • A. Min Kang
    Haskins Laboratories New Haven, CT
    Yale University New Haven, CT
  • Harriet S. Magen
    Haskins Laboratories New Haven, CT
    Rhode Island College Providence
  • Robert K. Fulbright
    Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, CT
  • John C. Gore
    Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, CT
  • Contact author: Doug Whalen, PhD, Haskins Laboratories, 270 Crown Street, New Haven, CT 06511.
    Contact author: Doug Whalen, PhD, Haskins Laboratories, 270 Crown Street, New Haven, CT 06511.×
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: whalen@haskins.yale.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1999
Predicting Midsagittal Pharynx Shape From Tongue Position During Vowel Production
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1999, Vol. 42, 592-603. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4203.592
History: Received April 8, 1998 , Accepted December 14, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1999, Vol. 42, 592-603. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4203.592
History: Received April 8, 1998; Accepted December 14, 1998

The shape of the pharynx has a large effect on the acoustics of vowels, but direct measurement of this part of the vocal tract is difficult. The present study examines the efficacy of inferring midsagittal pharynx shape from the position of the tongue, which is much more amenable to measurement. Midsagittal magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained for multiple repetitions of 11 static English vowels spoken by two subjects (one male and one female). From these, midsagittal widths were measured at approximately 3-mm intervals along the entire vocal tract. A regression analysis was then used to assess whether the pharyngeal widths could be predicted from the locations and width measurements for four positions on the tongue, namely, those likely to be the locations of a receiver coil for an electromagnetometer system. Predictability was quite high throughout the vocal tract (multiple r > 0.9), except for the extreme ends (i.e., larynx and lips) and small decreases for the male subject in the uvula region. The residuals from this analysis showed that the accuracy of predictions was generally quite high, with 89.2% of errors being less than 2 mm. The extremes of the vocal tract, where the resolution of the MRI was poorer, accounted for much of the error. For languages like English, which do not use advanced tongue root (ATR) distinctively, the midsagittal pharynx shape of static vowels can be predicted with high accuracy.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by NIH Grant DC-02717 to Haskins Laboratories. We are grateful to Hedy Sarofin and Terry Hickey for technical assistance. Portions of this research were presented at the 134th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, December 1997, in San Diego, CA. We thank Alice Faber, Bryan Gick, Maureen Stone, John Hogden, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on previous versions of this paper.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access