Vowel Perception and Perceptual Salience
Winter 2009: "Vowel perception and perceptual salience". We will look at both seminal and recent papers on vowel perception. As a secondary area of interest we will explore the notion of salience as used in the sociolinguistic and perceptual literature. Students will be expected to do the readings, interact in discussions, and present one paper (or their own research result) to the class. Students taking the seminar for full credit will write one of the following papers: 1) a critique of a published phonetic study of vowel perception and/or perceptual salience that we didn't cover in the seminar, 2) propose an experiment to extend the research on vowel perception and/or perceptual salience.

Prerequisites: Ling 452, Ling 453 (or advanced course including section on auditory perception) or approval by instructor

Class hours: Tuesday 3:30-5:50 THO 234

Office hours: Tuesday, 9:00-10:00, A210F Padelford, and by appointment

Email instructor

Discussion Board


Reading Materials:
Week 1 Jan 6 Intro to the seminar vowel perception and perceptual salience: RW
Week 2 Jan 13

Richard Wright:
Hillenbrand, J. M., R. A. Houde, et al. (2006). Speech perception based on spectral peaks versus spectral shape. J Acoust Soc Am 119 (6): 4041-54.
This study was designed to measure the relative contributions to speech intelligibility of spectral envelope peaks (including, but not limited to formants) versus the detailed shape of the spectral envelope. The problem was addressed by asking listeners to identify sentences and nonsense syllables that were generated by two structurally identical source-filter synthesizers, one of which constructs the filter function based on the detailed spectral envelope shape while the other constructs the filter function using a purposely coarse estimate that is based entirely on the distribution of peaks in the envelope. Viewed in the broadest terms the results showed that nearly as much speech information is conveyed by the peaks-only method as by the detail-preserving method. Just as clearly, however, every test showed some measurable advantage for spectral detail, although the differences were not large in absolute terms.

Kathy Nagle:
Nishi, K. and D. Kewley-Port (2008). Nonnative Speech Perception Training Using Vowel Subsets: Effects of Vowels in Sets and Order of Training. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research 51 (6): 1480-1493.

Week 3 Jan 20

Jennifer Haywood:
Rosner & Pickering (1994) "Vowel categerozation: Auditory processing" Ch 3 from Vowel Perception and Production.

Week 4 Jan 27

Andrew Schinkowski:
Johnson (2000). Adaptive dispersion in vowel perception, Phonetica, 57, pp181-188, 2000.
For background see: Johnson, Flemming, & Wright (1993) The hyperspace effect: Phonetic targets are hyperarticulated. Language 69 (3): 505-528

Week 5 Feb 3

Amber Franklin:
Iverson & Evans (2007). Learning English vowels with different first-language vowel systems: Perception of formant targets, formant movement, and duration


Week 6 Feb 10 Presenters: Bob Boiko
Week 7 Feb 17 cancelled
Week 8 Feb 24 Maria Burgess:
Gerfen & Baker (2005). The production and perception of laryngealized vowels in Coatzospan Mixtec
Week 9 Mar 3 Luis Tobar, Meghan Oxley
Week 10 Mar 10 open