Relation of Vocal Tract Shape, Formant Transitions, and Stop Consonant Identification PurposeThe present study was designed to investigate the relation of formant transitions to place-of-articulation for stop consonants. A speech production model was used to generate simulated utterances containing voiced stop consonants, and a perceptual experiment was performed to test their identification by listeners.MethodBased on a model of the vocal tract ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2010
Relation of Vocal Tract Shape, Formant Transitions, and Stop Consonant Identification
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Brad H. Story
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Kate Bunton
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Contact author: Brad H. Story, Speech Acoustics Laboratory, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail: bstory@u.arizona.edu.
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article   |   December 01, 2010
Relation of Vocal Tract Shape, Formant Transitions, and Stop Consonant Identification
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2010, Vol. 53, 1514-1528. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0127)
History: Received June 23, 2009 , Revised December 26, 2009 , Accepted March 12, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2010, Vol. 53, 1514-1528. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0127)
History: Received June 23, 2009; Revised December 26, 2009; Accepted March 12, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 8

PurposeThe present study was designed to investigate the relation of formant transitions to place-of-articulation for stop consonants. A speech production model was used to generate simulated utterances containing voiced stop consonants, and a perceptual experiment was performed to test their identification by listeners.

MethodBased on a model of the vocal tract shape, a theoretical basis for reducing highly variable formant transitions to more invariant formant deflection patterns as a function of constriction location was proposed. A speech production model was used to simulate vowel–consonant–vowel (VCV) utterances for 3 underlying vowel–vowel contexts and for which the constriction location was incrementally moved from the lips toward the velar part of the vocal tract. These simulated VCVs were presented to listeners who were asked to identify the consonant.

ResultsListener responses indicated that phonetic boundaries were well aligned with points along the vocal tract length where there was a shift in the deflection polarity of either the 2nd or 3rd formant.

ConclusionsThis study demonstrated that regions of the vocal tract exist that, when constricted, shift the formant frequencies in a predictable direction. Based on a perceptual experiment, the boundaries of these acoustically defined regions were shown to coincide with phonetic categories for stop consonants.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant R01 DC04789.
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