Auditory-perceptual interpretation of the vowel

James D. Miller

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208 Scopus citations


The major issues in relating acoustic waveforms of spoken vowels to perceived vowel categories are presented and discussed in terms of the author's auditory-perceptual theory of phonetic recognition. A brief historical review of formant-ratio theory is presented, as well as an analysis of frequency scales that have been proposed for description of the vowel. It is illustrated that the monophthongal vowel sounds of American English can be represented as clustered in perceptual target zones within a three-dimensional auditory-perceptual space (APS), and it is shown that preliminary versions of these target zones segregate a corpus of vowels of American English with 93% accuracy. Furthermore, it is shown that the nonretroflex vowels of American English fall within a narrow slab within the APS, with spread vowels near the front of this slab and rounded vowels near the back. Retroflex vowels fall in a distinct region behind the vowel slab. Descriptions of the vowels within the APS are shown to be correlated with their descriptions in terms of dimensions of articulation and timbre. Additionally, issues related to talker normalization, coarticulation effects, segmentation, pitch, transposition, and diphthongization are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2114-2134
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1989


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