The relation of velopharyngeal coupling area to the identification of stop versus nasal consonants in North American English based on speech generated by acoustically driven vocal tract modulations

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the threshold of velopharyngeal coupling area at which listeners switch from identifying a consonant as a stop to a nasal in North American English, based on V1CV2 stimuli generated with a speech production model that encodes phonetic segments as relative acoustic targets. Each V1CV2 was synthesized with a set of velopharyngeal coupling functions whose area ranged from 0 to 0.1 cm2. Results show that consonants were identified by listeners as a stop when the coupling area was less than 0.035-0.057 cm2, depending on place of articulation and final vowel. The smallest coupling area (0.035 cm2) at which the stop-to-nasal switch occurred was found for an alveolar consonant in the /aCi/ context, whereas the largest (0.057 cm2) was for a bilabial in /aCa/. For each stimulus, the balance of oral versus nasal acoustic energy was characterized by the peak nasalance during the consonant. Stimuli with peak nasalance below 40% were mostly identified by listeners as stops, whereas those above 40% were identified as nasals. This study was intended to be a precursor to further investigations using the same model but scaled to represent the developing speech production system of male and female talkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3618-3630
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume150
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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