4th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Philadelphia, PA, USA
October 3-6, 1996

Perceptual Use of Vowel and Speaker Information in Breath Sounds

Douglas H. Whalen (1), Sonya M. Sheffert (1,2)

(1) Haskins Laboratories, USA
(2) Indiana University, USA

Inspiration sounds, being shaped by the vocal tract, are a potential source of speech information. Previous work found that both speaker sex and coarticulatory information in the breath sound could influence vowel perception [1], Speaker sex affected the perception of one /bVd/ continuum while the coarticulatory information affected a second continuum. The present study extends those results by using an /hVd/ context for the inspiration sound and for the synthetic continuum. Breaths were produced before "heed", "hid", "head", "had" and "Hud". Two continua, from /as/ to // and from /e/ to III were presented to listeners for forced-choice identification. Preliminary results suggested that both vowel information and speaker sex affected the perception. Final results showed, instead, that the information did not affect perceptual boundaries between vowels. Several sources for the lack of an effect could exist, including variability in the amount of information in particular breath sounds and differences in the amount of ambiguity in the continua. Further work is called for.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Whalen, Douglas H. / Sheffert, Sonya M. (1996): "Perceptual use of vowel and speaker information in breath sounds", In ICSLP-1996, 2494-2497.