Volume 7, Issue 4, October 2011
Index of content:
7(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3684228View Description Hide Description
As humans, we are exquisitely tuned to voices and all that they are capable of conveying. On hearing someone speak, we quickly infer details about gender, age, education, and geographical background. We listen for signs of interest, well‐being, competence, and cooperation, or coldness, ineptness, and resistance. Along with these, mood, emotional conditions, personality, and psychological status are simultaneously assessed by the listener, with varying accuracies. These speaker characteristics constitute a very large, complex array and pose huge challenges to analytic approaches.
7(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3684224View Description Hide Description
Why do we sound the way we do? As people learn to speak, they acquire the language and dialect spoken around them. Sentence structure, word choice, and pronunciation are all determined by the patterns used in the ambient language to which we are exposed. This article focuses on the spontaneous or natural imitation of speech acoustics. In this article the terms imitation, convergence, and accommodation are used interchangeably. All of these terms are used to describe the unintentional process by which exposure to a speech stimulus causes an observer to display characteristics of the stimulus in their own productions.
7(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3684225View Description Hide Description
The human voice is a remarkable, multi‐faceted instrument that has been studied and discussed by scholars throughout recorded history. Modern scientific study has revealed much about its fundamental properties, such as the physics and physiology of vocal‐fold action, the causes and consequences of vocal impairment, and the rich, varied articulatory maneuvers used among the world's many languages. While inquiry has typically been prompted by issues concerning speech communication or vocal performance, work on vocalization in nonhumans is inspiring new questions and insights about the voice from an evolutionary perspective. A major goal in this approach is to understand how and why the human voice has come to have its current, particular form. The premise is that the basic biological forces shaping vocalization in other species have also been important in humans—creating basic commonalities that arguably transcend the many obvious differences that exist between human and nonhuman communication.
7(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3684226View Description Hide Description
The world is filled with an astounding array of languages, 6,909, by the count of the Ethnologue. Most of these use an acoustic signal as the main element in signal transmission, though vision affects speech even for typically hearing individuals; sign languages use the visual channel almost exclusively. The acoustic signal for speech is powered mostly by the larynx and shaped by the vocal tract. Because human populations have essentially the same anatomy, there is a great deal of similarity in the sounds that languages use. However, there is an impressive range of variability as well. The largest survey of sound systems, for example, lists no sound that occurs in all languages, even though broad patterns are seen. The number of significant sounds, or phonemes, ranges from about 12 (Pirahã, Rotokas) to over a hundred (!Xóõ), and the mechanisms used vary greatly as well. The acoustics of speech have proven to be extraordinarily complex.