Sex-Related Acoustic Changes in Voiceless English Fricatives This investigation is a comprehensive acoustic study of 4 voiceless fricatives (/f θ s ∫/) in English produced by adults and pre- and postpubescent children aged 6–14 years. Vowel duration, amplitude, and several different spectral measures (including spectral tilt and spectral moments) were examined. Of specific interest was the pattern ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2005
Sex-Related Acoustic Changes in Voiceless English Fricatives
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Robert Allen Fox
    The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Shawn L. Nissen
    Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: fox.2@osu.edu
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2005
Sex-Related Acoustic Changes in Voiceless English Fricatives
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2005, Vol. 48, 753-765. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/052)
History: Received November 20, 2003 , Revised November 1, 2004 , Accepted January 14, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2005, Vol. 48, 753-765. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/052)
History: Received November 20, 2003; Revised November 1, 2004; Accepted January 14, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 20

This investigation is a comprehensive acoustic study of 4 voiceless fricatives (/f θ s ∫/) in English produced by adults and pre- and postpubescent children aged 6–14 years. Vowel duration, amplitude, and several different spectral measures (including spectral tilt and spectral moments) were examined. Of specific interest was the pattern of normal development of the acoustic properties of fricatives and the nature of sex-specific patterns of fricative articulation in prepubescent children. Little evidence of amplitude or duration differences was found between speakers that was related to sex of the speaker. However, significant sex-specific differences in fricative articulation were found in all groups of speakers—even in the youngest children (ages 6–7 years)—although there was an indication that some of the acoustic differences between females and males is reduced or absent in the youngest children. Results from discriminant analysis demonstrated that a discriminant function based on the adult male tokens was generally better at classifying fricatives produced by male speakers than female speakers, regardless of age. This showed that sex-related differences (presumably a function of sex-linked vocal tract variation) were present even in the youngest speaker group. However, the classification accuracy of the female model showed a steady improvement with the increased age of the female speakers and may provide support for the claim that sex-related developmental differences may just be emerging in the youngest age group.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by research support funds from the Advanced Telecommunication Research (ATR) Laboratory in Nara, Japan, by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at The Ohio State University, and by an Institutional National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health.
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