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Linguistics Acoustic Phonetics
by
Allard Jongman

Introduction

Acoustic phonetics is the study of the acoustic characteristics of speech, including an analysis and description of speech in terms of its physical properties, such as frequency, intensity, and duration. Descriptions of speech sounds in these terms date back as far as 1830 (Willis), but the invention of the sound spectrograph (1945) was the major technological breakthrough that made the analysis and visualization of the speech signal possible. Subsequent developments in digital signal processing, most notably the discrete Fourier transform, have made it possible to conduct all acoustic analyses with a basic microcomputer. Rousselot (b. 1846–d. 1924) is widely regarded as the “father of experimental phonetics.” Rousselot applied the kymograph to the study of speech. The kymograph, invented in the 1840s by Ludwig, was originally used for measuring blood pressure and other physiological processes. For speech, the kymograph consisted of a rotating drum covered with paper coated with soot; speakers spoke into a rubber tube and the sound vibrations were captured by a stylus that registered the variations in air pressure, from which duration, intensity, and pitch could be measured. Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877 was of crucial importance since it was the first device that allowed the recording and reproduction of sound. This invention meant that speech was no longer a fleeting event but could be repeatedly heard and analyzed. A number of researchers developed additional devices to visualize and analyze the sound waveforms, including Hermann, Scripture, and Verner. Although the speech waveform (oscillogram) is the basis of all acoustic speech research, it is rarely used as a source. One important reason is that it is “too rich” since it contains information about frequency, intensity, and phase of the signal components, while human perception disregards the latter. Hence, the spectrogram provides a better representation.

Foundational Works

Acoustic phonetics is an instrumental science that depends on ways to store, replicate, visualize, and analyze the speech signal. Acoustic phonetics is also a cumulative science in which older research continues to be influential. While the early work of researchers, such as Rousselot 1897–1908 and Scripture 1906 (see also the section Sound Spectrograph), provided a first glimpse at the complexity of the speech signal, this research is not widely cited nowadays. In contrast, a number of seminal contributions on vocal tract acoustics and research based on the sound spectrograph remain influential. Among these, Chiba and Kajiyama 1958 introduces the acoustic theory of vowel production, which was further developed in Fant 1960, a seminal dissertation on the acoustic theory of speech production. Potter, et al. 1947 provides the first systematic overview of the acoustic characteristics of English vowels and consonants as illustrated by spectrograms. Joos 1948 still is a very accessible general introduction to acoustic phonetics. Jakobson, et al. 1952 uses new insights from speech processing to define distinctive features in acoustic rather than articulatory terms. Finally, Stevens 1998 is currently the most comprehensive source for the acoustics of vowels and consonants. The work is based on nearly fifty years of research by one of the most important figures in speech science.

  • Chiba, T., and M. Kajiyama. 1958. The vowel: Its nature and structure. Tokyo: Kaiseikan.

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    English translation of the original Japanese work published in 1941. The authors introduced the electric-circuit analog to simulate a resonance of the vocal tract and were aware of the existence of multiple formants. Their calculations of the first two formant frequencies of vowels based on vocal tract shapes were remarkably accurate. This research laid the foundation for perturbation theory and the acoustic theory of speech production.

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  • Fant, G. 1960. Acoustic theory of speech production. The Hague: Mouton.

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    A seminal contribution by one of the pioneers in speech acoustics, this book provides a detailed account of the relation between vocal tract shape and formant pattern for vowels and consonants. The acoustic theory of speech production remains the dominant framework for research in acoustic phonetics.

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  • Jakobson, R., G. Fant, and M. Halle. 1952. Preliminaries to speech analysis: The distinctive features and their correlates. Technical Report 13. Cambridge, MA: Acoustics Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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    Before the introduction of the spectrograph, most phonetic research focused on articulation. In this monograph, the authors used the latest advances in speech acoustics to forge a close link between acoustic phonetics and phonology, specifically by defining binary distinctive features in acoustic terms. Later editions were published by MIT Press.

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  • Joos, M. 1948. Acoustic phonetics. Language Monograph 23. Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America.

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    The author was the first linguist with extensive access to the sound spectrograph during World War II, well before the first public mention of this new equipment in 1945. This monograph covers basic aspects of wave analysis and source-filter theory and introduces the sound spectrogram as a new way to visualize and study vowels and consonants.

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  • Potter, R. K., G. A. Kopp, and H. C. Green. 1947. Visible speech. New York: D. Van Nostrand.

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    The first comprehensive overview of the acoustic properties of (English) vowels and consonants, richly illustrated with spectrograms.

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  • Rousselot, P. J. 1897–1908. Principes de phonétique expérimentale. Vol. 1. Paris: H. Welter.

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    Beautifully illustrated, this volume provides a detailed description of the equipment and techniques Rousselot developed for the display and analysis of speech. Also includes good coverage of the work of his contemporaries.

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  • Scripture, E. W. 1906. Researches in experimental phonetics: The study of speech curves. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

    DOI: 10.1037/13670-000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    “Speech curves” were essentially automatically traced from phonograph records and subjected to various quantitative analysis methods. These data were used to evaluate competing theories of vowel production as proposed by Helmholtz, Hermann, and others.

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  • Stevens, K. N. 1998. Acoustic phonetics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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    The definitive work on speech acoustics based on fifty years of research by one of its pioneers. Based on the acoustic theory of speech production, this book provides an acoustic analysis of vowels and consonants in unparalleled detail.

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Textbooks

Coverage of acoustic phonetics can be found in a number of textbooks. Most textbooks in phonetics include two or more areas of phonetics, such as acoustic phonetics, articulatory phonetics, speech perception, and phonetic transcription. A few textbooks focus specifically on acoustic phonetics, including Fry 1979, Ladefoged 1996, and Kent and Read 2002. Other textbooks with excellent coverage of acoustic phonetics include Lieberman and Blumstein 1988; Ashby and Maidment 2005; Reetz and Jongman 2009; Johnson 2012; and Raphael, et al. 2011.

Glossaries

There are only a few glossaries with coverage of phonetic terms. Onishi 1981 focuses exclusively on phonetics, Trask 1996 also includes phonology, and Crystal 2008 covers all areas of linguistics.

Edited Collections

The edited collections currently available consist of influential papers that shaped the study of acoustic phonetics. Many of these papers date back to the 1950s and 1960s when the sound spectrograph provided a major impetus for the study of the acoustic properties of speech. Lehiste 1967 includes articles up to 1962 while Kent, et al. 1991 covers research up to 1990.

  • Kent, R. D., B. S. Atal, and J. L. Miller. 1991. Papers in speech communication: Speech production. Woodbury, NY: Acoustical Society of America.

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    Part of a three-volume set, this volume contains forty-two seminal papers on the production of speech, including many classics on vocal tract acoustics and the acoustic characteristics of speech.

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  • Lehiste, I. 1967. Readings in acoustic phonetics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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    Contains many foundational papers on acoustic analysis methods and the acoustic structure of speech spanning the period from 1946 to 1962.

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Reference Works

Hardcastle, et al. 2010 is a handbook that contains a wealth of information on all aspects of phonetics, including several chapters on acoustic aspects of speech. Labov, et al. 2006 delineates the major dialects of American English.

  • Hardcastle, W. J., J. Laver, and F. E. Gibbon. 2010. The handbook of phonetic sciences. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444317251Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Twenty-two chapters provide thorough coverage of all areas of phonetics. Each chapter provides an advanced tutorial introduction to a particular aspect, including acoustic phonetics, acoustic analysis methods, prosody, and the relation between phonetics and phonology.

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  • Labov, W., S. Ash, and C. Boberg. 2006. The Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, phonology and sound change: A multimedia reference tool. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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    Unique in its scope, this atlas defines the regional dialects of American English based on transcription and acoustic analysis. It contains maps of dialectal regions as well as vowel charts of individual speakers. An accompanying CD-ROM provides a data base with measurements of more than one hundred thousand vowels and mean values for 439 speakers.

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Journals

No journals are exclusively dedicated to acoustic phonetics. The journals listed below all contain articles on aspects of acoustic phonetics, in addition to articles on the other areas of phonetics. All are peer-reviewed. Advances in the field are more often due to journal articles than books. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America covers all areas of acoustics, including acoustic phonetics. The Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Journal of Phonetics, Phonetica, and Speech Communication always include articles on acoustic phonetics. Language and Speech and the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research typically provide coverage of acoustic phonetics, among other topics.

Sound Spectrograph

The sound spectrograph development project was started at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey in 1941, building on research begun before World War II. The original goal was to create a device that could visualize speech sounds to make the telephone available to the deaf. The spectrograph produces an image called a spectrogram, which provides a three-dimensional representation of an utterance. Time is represented along the horizontal axis, frequency along the vertical axis, and intensity is represented by the darkness of the display. The spectrograph revolutionized the field of acoustic phonetics as it shows how speech frequencies and intensity change over time. Koenig, et al. 1946 is one of the first articles to introduce the speech spectrogram to a wider audience. Both Potter, et al. 1947 and Olive, et al. 1993 contain many insightful spectrograms.

Digital Signal Processing

Acoustic phonetics is highly dependent on computational analysis methods. A basic understanding of these methods and their underlying assumptions is a prerequisite for speech analysis. Among the textbooks, Kent and Read 2002, Johnson 2012, Ladefoged 1996, and Reetz and Jongman 2009 provide excellent introductions. Rosen and Howell 1991 and Harrington and Cassidy 1999 specifically aim to introduce speech signal processing to readers without much background in engineering or mathematics. For those interested in more in-depth technical coverage that does require such knowledge, O’Shaughnessy 1987 is an excellent source. Markel and Gray 1976 specifically focuses on linear predictive coding (LPC).

Instrumentation

For a discipline that relies heavily on the use of specialized equipment, surprisingly few publications are available on which type of equipment (or computer algorithm) should be used to address a specific issue and on how to use it. Ladefoged 2003 is a very welcome exception. Decker and Carrell 2004 is more technical and aimed at students in the speech and hearing sciences.

  • Decker, T. N., and T. D. Carrell. 2004. Instrumentation: An introduction for students in the speech and hearing sciences. 3d ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    Contains both theoretical and practical information about key concepts and equipment, including recorders, microphones, amplifiers, mixers, and spectrum analyzers.

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  • Ladefoged, P. 2003. Phonetic data analysis: An introduction to fieldwork and instrumental techniques. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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    Very accessible “how to” guide of experimental phonetic techniques, including making recordings and analyzing vowels, consonants, pitch, and phonation types.

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Segments

Traditionally, acoustic phonetic research has investigated the acoustic properties of individual vowels and consonants. Initially, in the 1950s and 1960s, this research was based on spectrograms; later findings also made use of linear predictive coding (LPC), waveform displays, and other digital analysis techniques. Much of this research is concerned with identifying acoustic characteristics that define and distinguish speech sounds in terms of place of articulation, manner of articulation, and voicing for consonants and in terms of height, frontness, and lip rounding for vowels within and across languages. One area of debate concerns the extent to which the acoustic characteristics are invariant or highly dependent on contextual factors, such as gender and size of the speaker, adjacent phonemes, and speaking rate. References are organized in terms of different classes of sounds. Almost all references listed here consist of journal articles and require a good understanding of acoustic phonetics. Stevens 1998 (cited under Foundational Works) provides a detailed discussion of all classes of speech sounds. Ladefoged and Maddieson 1996 is unique in covering a wide range of speech sounds from a variety of lesser-known languages.

Vowels

Peterson and Barney 1953 provides formant frequency measurements for the vowels of American English produced by adult males and females as well as children. Hillenbrand, et al. 1995 is a modern replication. Syrdal and Gopal 1986 represents vowels in terms of the auditory distance between formants. Miller 1989 provides a concise history of research on vowel acoustics. Rosner and Pickering 1994 provides a detailed account of the phonetics of vowels.

  • Hillenbrand, J. M., L. A. Getty, M. J. Clark, and K. Wheeler. 1995. Acoustic characteristics of American English vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 97.5: 3099–3111.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.411872Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The most comprehensive study of the American English vowels produced by a large number of female, male, and child speakers.

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  • Miller, J. D. 1989. Auditory-perceptual interpretation of the vowel. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 85.5: 2114–2134.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.397862Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Notable for its historical overview of different approaches to vowel categorization.

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  • Peterson, G. E., and H. L. Barney. 1953. Control methods used in a study of the vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 24.1: 175–184.

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    Classic study on the acoustics of American English vowels. The finding that vowels were not uniquely separated in a plot of the first two formant frequencies formed the impetus for decades of research on vowel normalization.

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  • Rosner, B. S., and J. B. Pickering. 1994. Vowel perception and production. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198521389.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough overview of vowels, including the way in which their acoustic properties are affected by variations in speaker, speaking rate, and stress.

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  • Syrdal, A. K., and H. S. Gopal. 1986. A perceptual model of vowel recognition based on the auditory representation of American-English vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 79.4: 1086–1100.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.393381Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows that the combination of a classification of vowels in terms of the auditory distance between formants and fundamental frequency with a three-bark distance for auditory averaging for formants results in a traditional representation of vowels in terms of frontness and height.

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Stop Consonants

Research on stop consonants has focused mainly on acoustic cues to place of articulation. Much of this research has tried to establish the nature of these cues and whether they are invariant or context-dependent. Blumstein and Stevens 1979; Lahiri, et al. 1984; and Sussman, et al. 1991 argue for acoustic invariance. Smits, et al. 1996 provides very detailed acoustic analyses. Lisker and Abramson 1964 introduces the concept of voice onset time to distinguish stop consonants in terms of voicing.

  • Blumstein, S. E., and K. N. Stevens. 1979. Acoustic invariance in speech production: Evidence from measurements of the spectral characteristics of stop consonants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 66.4: 1001–1017.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.383319Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the overall spectral shape sampled at the onset of stop-vowel syllables provides a stable cue to place of articulation despite variation in speaker and vowel context.

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  • Lahiri, A., L. Gewirth, and S. E. Blumstein. 1984. A reconsideration of acoustic invariance for place of articulation in diffuse stop consonants: Evidence from a cross-language study. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 76.2: 391–404.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.391580Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows that the incorporation of dynamic information, that is, the way in which the distribution of energy changes from the stop consonant to the following vowel, provides robust information about place of articulation.

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  • Lisker, L., and A. S. Abramson. 1964. A cross-language study of voicing in initial stops. Word 20:384–422.

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    Introduces the temporal measure “voice onset time” (VOT) and shows that it serves to distinguish the stop categories (in word-initial position) of a wide variety of languages.

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  • Smits, R., L. Ten Bosch, and R. Collier 1996. Evaluation of various sets of acoustical cues for the perception of prevocalic stop consonants: II. Modeling and evaluation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 100.6: 3865–3881.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.417242Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The most comprehensive acoustic analysis of stop consonants to date, this study compares nineteen acoustic cues for Dutch stops and concludes that detailed rather than global cues are the best predictors of place of articulation.

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  • Sussman, H. M., H. A. McCaffrey, and S. A. Matthews. 1991. An investigation of locus equations as a source of relational invariance for stop place of articulation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 90.3: 1309–1325.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.401923Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows that “locus equations,” straight line regressions fit to data points formed by plotting onsets of F2 transitions along the y axis and their corresponding mid-vowel nuclei along the x-axis, separate the three places of English voiced stop consonants with high accuracy.

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Fricatives

Most acoustic research on fricatives deals with the search for cues to place of articulation and the extent to which these cues are located in the frication noise itself or in the transitions between the fricative and adjacent vowel. Hughes and Halle 1956 focuses on the dominant spectral peak of the frication noise, Shadle 1985 and especially Jongman, et al. 2000 include a variety of acoustic cues. Strevens 1960 includes places of articulation not found in English. Soli 1981 shows that anticipatory coarticulation has a strong effect on the acoustics of the frication noise.

  • Hughes, G. W., and M. Halle. 1956. Spectral properties of fricative consonants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 28:303–310.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.1908271Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Description of English fricatives in terms of spectral peak location, with attention to individual differences.

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  • Jongman, A., R. Wayland, and S. Wong. 2000. Acoustic characteristics of English fricatives. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 108.3: 1252–1263.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.1288413Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The most comprehensive acoustic description of fricatives to date, this study includes a great number of acoustic measurements with respect to spectral properties, intensity, and duration.

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  • Shadle, C. H. 1985. “The Acoustics of Fricative Consonants.” PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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    Chapter 4 provides detailed spectral and amplitude measures for the voiceless bilabial, labiodental, interdental, alveolar, postalveolar, and velar fricatives.

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  • Soli, S. D. 1981. Second formants in fricatives: Acoustic consequences of fricative–vowel coarticulation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 70.4: 976–984.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.387032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes fricative-vowel syllables and shows that the presence of a rounded as compared to unrounded vowel can be acoustically detected in the preceding fricative at least 30–60 ms before the vowel.

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  • Strevens, P. 1960. Spectra of fricative noise in human speech. Language and Speech 3.1: 32–49.

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    A spectrographic study of voiceless fricatives, notable for its inclusion of bilabial, palatal, uvular, and velar fricatives.

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Approximants

Compared to stop consonants and fricatives, approximants have received less attention. Dalston 1975 and Espy-Wilson 1992 provide careful acoustic analyses of several approximants, Mack and Blumstein 1983 focus on /w/, Lindau 1985 and Hagiwara 1995 on /r/, and Sproat and Fujimura 1993 on /l/.

  • Dalston, R. M. 1975. Acoustic characteristics of English /w,r,I/ spoken correctly by young children and adults. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 57.2: 462–469.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.380469Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents formant frequencies, steady-state durations, transition durations, and transition rates of each of the first three formants for word-initial approximants.

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  • Espy-Wilson, C. 1992. Acoustic measures for linguistic features distinguishing the semivowels /w,j,r,l/ in American English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 92.2: 736–757.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.403998Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides a good summary of the acoustic correlates of approximants and documents a number of acoustic measures relating to features that separate the approximants from each other.

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  • Hagiwara, R. 1995. Acoustic realizations of American /r/ as produced by women and men. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 90:1–187.

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    Presents acoustic measurements based on spectrograms and spectra for word-initial, word-final, and syllabic /r/.

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  • Lindau, M. 1985. The story of /r/. In Phonetic linguistics: Essays in honor of Peter Ladefoged. Edited by V. Fromkin, 157–169. New York: Academic Press.

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    An attempt to find a unifying acoustic correlate of a variety of different /r/ sounds across several Indo-European and West African languages.

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  • Mack, M., and S. E. Blumstein. 1983. Further evidence of acoustic invariance in speech production: The stop-glide contrast. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 73.5: 1739–1750.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.389398Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that /b/ and /w/ are better distinguished on the basis of the change in relative amplitude in the vicinity of the consonant release than by formant transitions.

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  • Sproat, R., and O. Fujimura. 1993. Allophonic variation in English /l/ and its implications for phonetic implementation. Journal of Phonetics 21.3: 291–311.

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    Presents formant frequency data for intervocalic /l/ and argues that light and dark /l/ represent different points along a continuum of /l/ articulation.

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Nasals

Fujimura 1962 is a classic and still much-cited acoustic description of nasals, with a focus on antiformants. Kurowski and Blumstein 1987 explores the change in energy from the nasal to the following vowel as a cue to place of articulation.

Affricates

Very little research on affricates has been done. Since English affricates occur at only one place of articulation, much of this research has explored the manner of articulation distinction between affricates and stops. Howell and Rosen 1983 is a good example of this approach. Shinn 1985 includes languages with affricates at multiple places of articulation. Stevens 1993 provides detailed acoustic analyses of the English affricate.

Suprasegmentals

Suprasegmentals is a cover term referring to aspects of speech that extend beyond individual segments. The principal suprasegmental features are stress, quantity, tone, and intonation. References are organized in terms of these four categories. The term prosody is closely related as it refers to variations in pitch, loudness, tempo, and rhythm. Lehiste 1970 is the only introduction to the acoustics and perception of suprasegmental features. Nooteboom 1997 provides a broad overview of the prosody of speech. Fletcher 2010 has good coverage of issues related to speech timing and rhythm while Beckman and Venditti 2010 provides an up-to-date overview of tone and intonation, which is more phonologically oriented than Nooteboom 1997.

Stress

Lieberman 1960 provides an analysis of the acoustic correlates of lexical stress in English. In comparing English and Japanese, Beckman 1986 shows how stress-accent and pitch-accent languages differ in their use of the acoustic correlates of stress. Sluijter and van Heuven 1996 teases apart the effects of stress and accent.

  • Beckman, M. E. 1986. Stress and non-stress accent. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Foris.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110874020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains a useful overview of accent and tone systems and provides an insightful comparison of the acoustic correlates of stress in English and Japanese, concluding that English, a stress-accent language, uses fundamental frequency, duration, and intensity to signal prominence while Japanese, a pitch-accented language, uses only fundamental frequency.

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  • Lieberman, P. 1960. Some acoustic correlates of word stress in American English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 32.4: 451–454.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.1908095Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Acoustic analysis of English noun‐verb pairs differing principally in their stress patterns (e.g., “contract”-“contract”) suggests that stressed syllables typically have a higher fundamental frequency, higher peak envelope amplitude, and longer duration than their unstressed counterparts.

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  • Sluijter, A. M. C., and V. J. van Heuven. 1996. Spectral balance as an acoustic correlate of linguistic stress. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 100.4: 2471–2485.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.417955Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that many previous studies of stress did not separate the effects of stress and accent. Avoiding this confound, the authors show that overall intensity is not an acoustic correlate of stress but that spectral balance (the distribution of the intensity in four nonoverlapping contiguous frequency bands) is a reliable acoustic correlate of lexical stress.

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Quantity

Research on quantity takes many different forms. Dauer 1983 and Ramus, et al. 1999 try to find evidence for the traditional distinction among stress-, syllable-, and mora-timed languages. Elert 1964 and Ham 2001 focus on the phonemic length distinction for vowels and consonants. Klatt 1976 documents a number of linguistic and extralinguistic factors that all affect segment duration. Wightman, et al. 1992 investigates the temporal organization of phrases.

  • Dauer, R. M. 1983. Stress-timing and syllable-timing reanalyzed. Journal of Phonetics 11:51–62.

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    Cross-linguistic study showing that interstress intervals in stress-timed languages such as English are no more isochronous than those in syllable-timed languages such as Spanish. Discredits the strict dichotomy between languages in which the stress occurs at regular intervals and those in which the syllable occurs at regular intervals.

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  • Elert, C.-C. 1964. Phonologic studies of quantity in Swedish. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist & Wiksell.

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    A detailed acoustic investigation of the long and short vowels and consonants of Stockholm Swedish.

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  • Ham, W. H. 2001. Phonetic and phonological aspects of geminate timing. New York: Routledge.

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    Investigates the duration of geminate (long) consonants across several languages.

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  • Klatt, D. H. 1976. Linguistic uses of segmental duration in English: Acoustic and perceptual evidence. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 59.5: 1208–1221.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.380986Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides a good overview of both linguistic (e.g., syntactic and semantic) and extralinguistic (e.g., emotional state) factors that affect the temporal organization of a sentence.

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  • Ramus, F., M. Nespor, and J. Mehler. 1999. Correlates of linguistic rhythm in the speech signal. Cognition 73.3: 265–292.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0010-0277(99)00058-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents detailed acoustic measurements (including vocalic and consonantal intervals) from eight languages and shows that acoustic correlates of different rhythm classes (stress-, syllable-, and mora-timed) can be found in the speech signal.

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  • Wightman, C. W., S. Shattuck-Hufnagel, M. Ostendorf, and P. J. Price. 1992. Segmental durations in the vicinity of prosodic phrase boundaries. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91.3: 1707–1717.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.402450Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Builds on work in prosodic phonology and shows that the degree of preboundary lengthening can distinguish four levels of prosodic constituents.

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Tone

Howie 2010 and Jongman, et al. 2006 provide overviews of the acoustic correlates of tone in Mandarin Chinese, the most commonly spoken tone language. Abramson 1960 does so for Thai while Fintoft 1970 documents the tonal system of Norwegian, a pitch-accent language. Hombert, et al. 1979 offers hypotheses about the origins of tone.

  • Abramson, A. S. 1960. “The Vowels and Tones of Standard Thai: Acoustical Measurements and Experiments.” PhD diss., Columbia University.

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    This dissertation provides fundamental frequency and duration data for the five tones of Thai.

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  • Fintoft, K. 1970. Acoustical analysis and perception of tonemes in some Norwegian dialects. Oslo, Norway: Universitetsforlaget.

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    Presents duration, fundamental frequency, intensity, and formant frequency values for toneme one and toneme two words across several dialects.

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  • Hombert, J.-M., J. J. Ohala, and W. G. Ewan. 1979. Phonetic explanations for the development of tones. Language 55.1: 37–58.

    DOI: 10.2307/412518Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides phonetic explanations for tonal sound patterns. Specifically, differences in the fundamental frequency of vowels when preceded by voiced as compared to voiceless consonants are postulated to ultimately trigger distinct lexical tones.

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  • Howie, J. M. 2010. Acoustical studies of Mandarin vowels and tones. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Presents fundamental frequency and duration data for the four tones of Mandarin Chinese (as well as formant frequencies of the vowels). Originally published in 1976.

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  • Jongman, A., Y. Wang, C. Moore, and J. Sereno. 2006. Perception and production of Mandarin tone. In The handbook of East Asian psycholinguistics. Vol. 1, Chinese. Edited by P. Li, L. H. Tan, E. Bates, and O. J. L Tzeng, 209–217. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Provides an overview of the acoustic correlates of Mandarin tone.

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Intonation

Perhaps more so than other areas of phonetics, the study of intonation is closely linked to phonology. Lieberman 1967 is an early example; Pierrehumbert 1980 is a classic in this field and set the stage for the study of both the phonetic and phonological aspects of intonation. Beckman, et al. 2005 provides an overview of a widely used system for the annotation of intonation.

  • Beckman, M. E., J. Hirschberg, and S. Shattuck-Hufnagel. 2005. The original ToBI system and the evolution of the ToBI framework. In Prosodic typology: The phonology of intonation and phrasing. Edited by S.-A. Jun, 9–54. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Provides an introduction to a now widely used system for the annotation of intonation patterns (ToBI: Tone and Break Indices) as well as the historical antecedents and theoretical foundations.

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  • Lieberman, P. 1967. Intonation, perception, and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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    Uses the notion of the unmarked and marked breath group to analyze intonation patterns. Also includes a discussion of the relationship between phonological and phonetic analyses of intonation.

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  • Pierrehumbert, J. B. 1980. “The Phonology and Phonetics of English Intonation.” PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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    Established a new framework for relating acoustic pitch patterns to phonological descriptions of intonation, incorporating fine phonetic detail in the phonological analysis of intonation. This framework provided a major impetus for the field of intonational phonology and continues to be the dominant approach.

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Voice Quality

Acoustic investigations of linguistic voice quality usually focus on phonation types such as breathy voice, creak, and whisper. While these phonation types can be used paralinguistically, they signal phonemic distinctions in many of the world’s languages. Laver 1980 is an older, but still widely cited, source on voice quality in its broadest sense, including pitch, loudness, and phonation types. Ni Chaisade and Gobl 1997 provides a thorough overview of the acoustics, articulation, and perception of voice quality. Gordon and Ladefoged 2001 presents a cross-linguistic overview of phonation types. Voice quality can also indicate a speaker’s emotional state. Scherer 1986 provides a review of the acoustic correlates of emotion. Kreiman and Sidtis 2011 present the most comprehensive overview of voice science.

Connected Speech

Traditionally, phonetic analysis focused on the acoustic characteristics of individual speech sounds produced in isolation or in well-controlled syllables. Yet, speech does not consist of individual sounds. When moving beyond the domain of isolated speech sounds, it becomes clear that speech sounds are influenced by other preceding and/or following segments. This influence is referred to as “coarticulation.” For a general overview, Hardcastle and Hewlett 1999 contains a number of chapters on the acoustics of coarticulation. Ohman 1966 remains the classic source on vowel-to-vowel coarticulation. Farnetani 1997 provides a thorough overview of models of coarticulation. Lindblom 1963 introduces the notion of acoustic targets in this study of vowel reduction. Koopmans-van Beinum 1980 documents the reduction of unstressed vowels. More recently, phoneticians are studying the acoustics of casual speech in which several processes, including assimilation, reduction, and deletion, may cause significant differences between underlying and produced forms. For example, Pluymaekers, et al. 2005 shows that common words are more reduced than less common words. Barry and Andreeva 2001 compares segment reduction across several languages.

  • Barry, W., and B. Andreeva. 2001. Cross-language similarities and differences in spontaneous speech patterns. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 31.1: 51–66.

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    Provides evidence from spectrograms and transcriptions of very similar segmental reduction patterns across six languages that differ in their sound inventories and syllable structures.

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  • Farnetani, E. 1997. Coarticulation and connected speech processes. In The handbook of phonetic sciences. Edited by W. J. Hardcastle and J. Laver, 317–404. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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    A thorough survey of models of coarticulation.

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  • Hardcastle, W. J., and N. Hewlett, eds. 1999. Coarticulation: Theory, data, and techniques. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Contains chapters on different types of coarticulation, models of coarticulation, and the acoustic analysis of coarticulation.

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  • Koopmans-van Beinum, Florien J. 1980. Vowel contrast reduction: An acoustic and perceptual study of Dutch vowels in various speech conditions. Amsterdam: Academische Pers.

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    A detailed report of vowel reduction as measured through formant frequencies, duration, and fundamental frequency.

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  • Lindblom, B. 1963. Spectrographic study of vowel reduction. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 35.11: 1773–1781.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.1918816Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows that as vowel duration decreases, canonical vowel target formant frequencies are not reached (“undershoot”) and take on values of adjacent consonants.

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  • Ohman, S. 1966. Coarticulation in VCV utterances: Spectrographic measurements. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 39.1: 151–168.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.1909864Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Compares coarticulation in Swedish, English, and Russian. Language-specific differences between Swedish and English, on the one hand, and Russian, on the other, suggest that coarticulation is not a purely mechanical process.

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  • Pluymaekers, M., M. Ernestus, and R. H. Baayen. 2005. Lexical frequency and acoustic reduction in spoken Dutch. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 118.4: 2561–2569.

    DOI: 10.1121/1.2011150Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows a clear relation between lexical frequency and segment reduction based on a large corpus of face-to-face conversations.

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Sociophonetics

The term sociophonetics is relatively new and refers to the use of instrumental phonetic techniques to study variability due to a number of sources, including socioeconomic status, gender, region, and age. The origins of this field are often traced back to Labov, et al. 1972, a study of vowel shifting. Labov and his students continue to be major driving forces in this area. Labov 1994–2010 is a three-volume set that provides an exhaustive overview of the research methods and findings of the author and his students. Preston and Niedzielski 2010 presents a collection of papers by experts in the field. Thomas 2011 is the first textbook on sociophonetics.

  • Labov, W. 1994–2010. Principles of linguistic change. 3 vols. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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    This three-volume magnum opus provides the ultimate summary of the research by one of the founders of sociophonetics. The volumes include: Vol. 1, Internal factors, Vol. 2, Social factors, and Vol. 3, Cognitive and cultural factors.

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  • Labov, W., M. Yaeger, and R. Steiner. 1972. A quantitative study of sound change in progress. Philadelphia: US Regional Survey.

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    One of the first instrumental phonetic analyses to document vowel variation, richly illustrated with spectrograms and F1 x F2 vowel plots. Based on tape-recorded interviews with working-class speakers from various age groups.

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  • Preston, D. R., and N. Niedzielski, eds. 2010. A reader in sociophonetics. New York: Walter de Gruyter.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781934078068Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains a number of chapters that use acoustic analysis to document sociolinguistic effects at both segmental and suprasegmental levels.

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  • Thomas, E. R. 2011. Sociophonetics: An introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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    This highly accessible textbook contains an excellent introduction to acoustic phonetics as well as the interfaces between phonetics and sociolinguistics.

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Second Language Acquisition

The study of second language acquisition is one of the fastest-growing branches of phonetics. Issues dominating this field include the existence of a critical period for language learning, interference of the native language sound inventory when learning a second language, and the notion of foreign accent. James Flege is one of the pioneers and has published extensively in this field. Flege 1987 provides acoustic evidence for differences between the acquisition of speech sounds that are new and similar as compared to the native language. Flege 1995 is still the most detailed overview of the author’s Speech Learning Model. Bohn and Munro 2007 provides an up-to-date overview of the field.

  • Bohn, O.-S., and M. J. Munro, eds. 2007. Language experience in second language speech learning. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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    This festschrift for Flege contains chapters by many of the leading researchers in the phonetics of second language acquisition.

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  • Flege, J. E. 1987. The production of “new” and “similar” phones in a foreign language: Evidence for the effect of equivalence classification. Journal of Phonetics 15:47–65.

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    Provides acoustic measurements of stop consonants and vowels produced by American learners of French with varying proficiency. Argues that sounds that are new in the second language can ultimately be produced native-like, as opposed to sounds that are similar between the native language and the second language.

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  • Flege, J. E. 1995. Second language speech learning: Theory, findings, and problems. In Speech perception and linguistic experience: Issues in cross-language research. Edited by W. Strange, 233–277. Baltimore: York Press.

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    A detailed overview of Flege’s Speech Learning Model (SLM).

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Disorders

Acoustic phonetics is often used by clinicians to diagnose speech disorders. Books and articles on clinical diagnosis and treatment of speech disorders are available in abundance, many of which fall outside the scope of linguistics. Baken and Orlikoff 2000 and Ball and Mueller 2005 provide good introductions. Ferrand 2006 pairs basic and applied chapters on specific topics.

  • Baken, R. J., and R. F. Orlikoff 2000. Clinical measurement of speech and voice. San Diego, CA: Singular.

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    Good overview of the acoustics and articulation of speech with an emphasis on clinical applications.

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  • Ball, M. J., and N. Müller. 2005. Phonetics for communication disorders. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    Solid introduction to acoustic and articulatory phonetics for advanced undergraduate/beginning graduate students in speech disorders with an emphasis on English.

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  • Ferrand, C. T. 2006. Speech science: An integrated approach to theory and clinical practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    Contains several chapters on the acoustics of speech. A nice feature is that each chapter is followed by a chapter with related clinical applications. For example, the chapter on vocal fold vibration is followed by a chapter on jitter, shimmer, and voice quality as potential indicators of pathology.

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Interfaces

The most obvious interface for phonetics is that with phonology. One of the major issues in the study of the phonetics/phonology interface concerns how much phonetic detail is included in phonological representations. Keating 1996 is a good introduction to some of these issues. Much recent work on intonation is also conducted within the phonetics/phonology interface framework. Ladd 2009 is a thorough overview of this approach. The book series Laboratory Phonology, published every two to three years since 1991, contains papers dealing with the interaction between acoustic (or articulatory or auditory) phonetics and phonology. Cohn, et al. 2012 contains contributions from more than fifty experts in the field.

  • Cohn, A. C., C. Fougeron, and M. Huffman, eds. 2012. The Oxford handbook of laboratory phonology. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Thorough coverage of research in laboratory phonology, including acoustics, articulation, and perception. Also discusses acquisition, sound change, and research paradigms.

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  • Keating, P. A. 1996. The phonology–phonetics interface. In Interfaces in phonology. Edited by U. Kleinhenz, 262–278. Studia Grammatica 41. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

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    An accessible overview of the interface with respect to segmental representations, including coarticulation and underspecification.

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  • Laboratory phonology. 1991–2010. Vols. 7–10. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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    These volumes contain contributions by phonologists, phoneticians, and psycholinguists on the division of labor between phonology and phonetics observed at the segmenal and suprasegmental levels, using techniques from acoustic, articulatory, and auditory phonetics. Ten volumes have appeared so far. Volumes 1–6, published by Cambridge University Press, were published under the title Papers in Laboratory Phonology.

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  • Ladd, D. R. 2009. Intonational phonology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Detailed coverage of the autosegmental-metrical approach to the study of intonation, including cross-language comparisons. Aimed at the graduate level.

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LAST MODIFIED: 03/19/2013

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199772810-0047

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