Second International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP'92)

Banff, Alberta, Canada
October 13-16, 1992

The English Voicing Contrast as Velocity Perturbation

Robert F. Port, Fred Cummins

Department of Linguistics, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

How do the discrete phonological units of the lexicon map onto continuous-time articulatory gestures and continuous-time auditory signals? The distinctive feature of [vm'ce] in syllable-coda position in English raises these questions with a vengeance. For minimal pairs like buzz/bus, clamber/clamper, tens/tense, etc, most measurable time intervals associated with the first syllable of these words are affected by the value of [voice]. Several of the rules in the traditional standard phonologies of English and many so-called 'phonetic implementation rules' serve to account for the various large and small temporal effects associated with the feature. We show that a very simple model for the English voicing contrast can be proposed that may account for these effects only if this phonological feature is phonetically defined as a velocity perturbation of a periodic dynamical system for English syllables. We summarize some evidence for the generalization that localized speaking-rate changes characterize a change in voicing. Then we suggest a general mathematical form for this dynamic effect that requires only a few parameters. This model implements the voicing feature as a perturbing forcing function for an underlying syllable oscillator.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Port, Robert F. / Cummins, Fred (1992): "The English voicing contrast as velocity perturbation", In ICSLP-1992, 1311-1314.