Vowel Category Dependence of the Relationship Between Palate Height, Tongue Height, and Oral Area This article evaluates intertalker variance of oral area, logarithm of the oral area, tongue height, and formant frequencies as a function of vowel category. The data consist of coronal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences and acoustic recordings of 5 talkers, each producing 11 different vowels. Tongue height (left, right, and ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2003
Vowel Category Dependence of the Relationship Between Palate Height, Tongue Height, and Oral Area
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, PhD
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Shamala Pizza
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Abeer Alwan
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Jul Setsu Alwan
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Katherine Haker
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles
  • Contact author: Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, PhD, Beckman Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801. E-mail: jhasegaw@uiuc.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2003
Vowel Category Dependence of the Relationship Between Palate Height, Tongue Height, and Oral Area
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2003, Vol. 46, 738-753. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/059)
History: Received April 29, 2002 , Accepted December 9, 2002
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2003, Vol. 46, 738-753. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/059)
History: Received April 29, 2002; Accepted December 9, 2002
Web of Science® Times Cited: 8

This article evaluates intertalker variance of oral area, logarithm of the oral area, tongue height, and formant frequencies as a function of vowel category. The data consist of coronal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences and acoustic recordings of 5 talkers, each producing 11 different vowels. Tongue height (left, right, and midsagittal), palate height, and oral area were measured in 3 coronal sections anterior to the oropharyngeal bend and were subjected to multivariate analysis of variance, variance ratio analysis, and regression analysis. The primary finding of this article is that oral area (between palate and tongue) showed less intertalker variance during production of vowels with an oral place of articulation (palatal and velar vowels) than during production of vowels with a uvular or pharyngeal place of articulation. Although oral area variance is place dependent, percentage variance (log area variance) is not place dependent. Midsagittal tongue height in the molar region was positively correlated with palate height during production of palatal vowels, but not during production of nonpalatal vowels. Taken together, these results suggest that small oral areas are characterized by relatively talker-independent vowel targets and that meeting these talkerindependent targets is important enough that each talker adjusts his or her own tongue height to compensate for talker-dependent differences in constriction anatomy. Computer simulation results are presented to demonstrate that these results may be explained by an acoustic control strategy: When talkers with very different anatomical characteristics try to match talker-independent formant targets, the resulting area variances are minimized near the primary vocal tract constriction.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institutes of Heath Individual National Research Service Award F23 DC 00323-0l granted to the first author, by a grant to the second author from the American Association of Orthodontics, and by a National Science Foundation CAREER award granted to the third author.
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