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Phondi: Sagan Blue and Kate Sherwood present

Friday, March 15, 2013
12:00 AM
473 Lorch Hall

Effects of gestural coarticulation on perception of ambisyllabic consonants/Articulatory compensation for altered acoustic feedback

We will have two presentations in Phondi today, by graduate students Kate Sherwood and Sagan Blue. The titles and abstracts of their presentations are given below.

Articulatory compensation for altered acoustic feedback (Kate Sherwood)

Whether speech production targets are articulatory, acoustic, or both is a long standing question. Prior research has shown that when a subject’s acoustic feedback is altered, they will compensate. For example, if their F2 is artificially raised through an acoustic transformation and played back in real time, they will lower F2. I will present a plan for an experiment that uses ultrasound and a lip camera to see how subjects achieve this compensation. Will they alter their tongue position, using only the articulator normally involved in the production of the vowel, or will they also round their lips? And does the phonology of their native language influence this choice?  I will be asking for feedback regarding the design and execution of this experiment, which is still in the very beginning stages.

Effects of gestural coarticulation on perception of ambisyllabic consonants (Sagan Blue)

A foundational notion of phonological and phonetic theories is that words can be broken up into syllables, which in turn are composed of an onset, a nucleus, and a coda (e.g. in stone, [st], [o] and [n], respectively). Technological and theoretical advances in the past fifteen years have led to experimental findings that provide evidence that syllables function as units of physiological organization. Krakow (1999) showed that consonants are articulated differently depending on whether they are syllable initial (onsets) or syllable final (codas), which supports the hypothesis that syllables act as organizational units for articulation. Although there is a growing body of research in this area, at least two areas remain understudied.  (1) There is little perceptual study of syllable constituency. For example, the work of Krakow and others does not address whether articulatory differences between onsets and codas result in perceptible acoustic differences. (2) There is little articulatory data on the syllable affiliation of certain consonants, especially intervocalic consonants. Kahn (1976) reported that many English speakers find it difficult to syllabify such words such as hammer ['hæm?] or pillow ['p?l??], with some speakers breaking hammer up into ['hæm] and [?] and others into ['hæ] and [m?]. These “ambisyllabic” consonants are not uncommon in English, but it remains unclear why these consonants have indeterminate status.

I intend to carry out a series of experiments to shed light on how consonants that are perceived as ambisyllabic are articulated compared to those which are clearly onsets or codas.  Furthermore, I hope to determine how changes in intergestural timing can result in perceptible changes in acoustics that may cause a consonant to be perceived as an onset, coda or ambisyllabic segment.


Kahn, D. (1976). Syllable-based generalizations in English phonology. Doctoral dissertation, MIT, Cambridge, MA

Krakow, R. (1999). Physiological organization of syllables: A review. Journal of Phonetics, 27, 23-54