Perceiving the Causes of Coarticulatory Acoustic Variation: Consonant Voicing and Vowel Pitch

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Coarticulatory acoustic variation is presumed to be caused by temporally overlapping linguistically significant gestures of the vocal tract. The complex acoustic consequences of such gestures can be hypothesized to specify them without recourse to context-sensitive representations of phonetic segments. When the consequences of separate gestures converge on a common acoustic dimension (e.g., fundamental frequency), perceptual parsing of the acoustic consequences of overlapping spoken gestures, rather than associations of acoustic features, is required to resolve the distinct gestural events. Direct tests of this theory were conducted. These tests revealed mutual influences of (1) fundamental frequency during a vowel on prior consonant perception, and (2) consonant identity on following vowel stress and pitch perception. The results of these converging tests lead to the conclusion that speech perception involves a process in which acoustic information for coarticulated gestures is parsed from the stream of speech.



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