Mumbling: Macho or Morphology? Purpose Mumbling as opposed to clear speech is a typical male characteristic in speech and can be the consequence of a small jaw opening. Whereas behavioral reasons have often been offered to explain sex-specific differences with respect to clear speech, the purpose of this study is to investigate a potential ... Supplement Article
Supplement Article  |   December 01, 2016
Mumbling: Macho or Morphology?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Melanie Weirich
    ZAS—Centre for General Linguistics, Berlin, Germany
    Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  • Susanne Fuchs
    ZAS—Centre for General Linguistics, Berlin, Germany
  • Adrian Simpson
    Institute for German Linguistics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
  • Ralf Winkler
    ZAS—Centre for General Linguistics, Berlin, Germany
  • Pascal Perrier
    Université Grenoble Alpes, Gipsa-lab, Grenoble, France
    CNRS, Gipsa-lab, Grenoble, France
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Melanie Weirich: melanie.weirich@uni-jena.de
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Leonardo Lancia
    Associate Editor: Leonardo Lancia×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Supplement: Select Papers From the 10th International Seminar on Speech Production
Supplement Article   |   December 01, 2016
Mumbling: Macho or Morphology?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, S1587-S1595. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-15-0040
History: Received January 31, 2015 , Revised September 9, 2015 , Accepted January 28, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, S1587-S1595. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-15-0040
History: Received January 31, 2015; Revised September 9, 2015; Accepted January 28, 2016

Purpose Mumbling as opposed to clear speech is a typical male characteristic in speech and can be the consequence of a small jaw opening. Whereas behavioral reasons have often been offered to explain sex-specific differences with respect to clear speech, the purpose of this study is to investigate a potential anatomical reason for smaller jaw openings in male than in female speakers.

Method Articulatory data from 2 data sets (American English and German) were analyzed with respect to jaw opening in low vowels during speech. Particular focus was placed on sex-specific differences, also incorporating potential interactions with different accent conditions in 1 of the data sets. In addition, a modeling study compared the articulatory consequences of similar jaw-opening settings in a typical male and a typical female articulatory model.

Results Greater jaw openings were found for the female speakers, in particular in the accented condition, where jaw opening was found to be larger. In line with this finding, the modeling study showed that similar jaw-opening settings in male and female speakers led to differences in pharyngeal constriction, resulting in complete radico-pharyngeal closure in the male model.

Conclusion The empirical and modeling findings suggest a possible physiological component in sex-specific differences in speech clarity for low vowels.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by German Research Council Grants SI 743/6-1/2 and FU 791/1-1 (awarded to Adrian P. Simpson and Susanne Fuchs). We would like to thank J. Brunner, C. Geng, and A. Gafos of the Department of Linguistics, Potsdam University, where the EMA recordings were made. Thanks to Christophe Savariaux for providing the x-ray data shown in Figure 2. We are very grateful to the participating subjects.
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