Volume 126, Issue 3, September 2009
Index of content:
- SPEECH PRODUCTION 
126(2009); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3192350View Description Hide Description
The aim of this study was to examine the acoustic and spectral patterns of stop articulation in the speech of pre-pubescent children. A set of voiceless stop consonants, /ptk/, produced by a group of adults and typically developing children of age were examined in terms of multiple acoustic and spectral parameters. Findings indicated that, with the exception of spectral kurtosis, the acoustic and spectral characteristics of the stop productions varied significantly as a function of place of articulation and vowel context. Sex-specific differences in spectral slope, mean, and skewness were found for the -old and adult speakers. Such differences in adult speakers can be explained in part by variation in vocal tract size across the sex of the speaker; however, vocal tract dimorphism is typically not present in pre-pubescent children. Thus, the findings of this study provide some support that sex-specific differences in the speechpatterns of young children may be associated with learned or behavioral factors, such as patterns of obstruent articulation that depend in part on a culturally determined male-female archetype.
126(2009); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3180321View Description Hide Description
This paper examines four acoustic correlates of vowel identity in Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and European Portuguese (EP): first formant (F1), second formant (F2), duration, and fundamental frequency (F0). Both varieties of Portuguese display some cross-linguistically common phenomena: vowel-intrinsic duration, vowel-intrinsic pitch, gender-dependent size of the vowel space, gender-dependent duration, and a skewed symmetry in F1 between front and back vowels. Also, the average difference between the vocal tract sizes associated with ∕i∕ and ∕u∕, as measured from formantanalyses, is comparable to the average difference between male and female vocal tract sizes. A language-specific phenomenon is that in both varieties of Portuguese the vowel-intrinsic duration effect is larger than in many other languages. Differences between BP and EP are found in duration (BP has longer stressed vowels than EP), in F1 (the lower-mid front vowel approaches its higher-mid counterpart more closely in EP than in BP), and in the size of the intrinsic pitcheffect (larger for BP than for EP).
126(2009); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3177275View Description Hide Description
The goal of this study was to identify acoustic parameters associated with the expression of sarcasm by Cantonese speakers, and to compare the observed features to similar data on English [Cheang, H. S. and Pell, M. D. (2008). Speech Commun.50, 366–381]. Six native Cantonese speakers produced utterances to express sarcasm, humorous irony, sincerity, and neutrality. Each utterance was analyzed to determine the mean fundamental frequency (F0), F0-range, mean amplitude, amplitude-range, speech rate, and harmonics-to-noise ratio (HNR) (to probe voice quality changes). Results showed that sarcastic utterances in Cantonese were produced with an elevated mean F0, and reductions in amplitude- and F0-range, which differentiated them most from sincere utterances. Sarcasm was also spoken with a slower speech rate and a higher HNR (i.e., less vocal noise) than the other attitudes in certain linguistic contexts. Direct Cantonese-English comparisons revealed one major distinction in the acoustic pattern for communicating sarcasm across the two languages: Cantonese speakers raised mean F0 to mark sarcasm, whereas English speakers lowered mean F0 in this context. These findings emphasize that prosody is instrumental for marking non-literal intentions in speech such as sarcasm in Cantonese as well as in other languages. However, the specific acoustic conventions for communicating sarcasm seem to vary among languages.
126(2009); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3158930View Description Hide Description
The goal of this study is to investigate the production and perception of French vowels by blind and sighted speakers. 12 blind adults and 12 sighted adults served as subjects. The auditory-perceptual abilities of each subject were evaluated by discrimination tests (AXB). At the production level, ten repetitions of the ten French oral vowels were recorded. Formant values and fundamental frequency values were extracted from the acoustic signal. Measures of contrasts between vowel categories were computed and compared for each feature (height, place of articulation, roundedness) and group (blind, sighted). The results reveal a significant effect of group (blind vs sighted) on production, with sighted speakers producing vowels that are spaced further apart in the vowel space than those of blind speakers. A group effect emerged for a subset of the perceptual contrasts examined, with blind speakers having higher peak discrimination scores than sighted speakers. Results suggest an important role of visual input in determining speech goals.