14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999


Vowel Length and Quality: Identifying Thresholds of Perception

Rudolf Weiss (1), W. S. Brown Jr (2), Shaw N. Gynan (1)

(1) Western Washington University, USA; (2) University of Florida, USA

This follow-up to a previous study of durational threshold levels for the cardinal vowels [i e a o u] used segmented vowel tokens varying in length from 0.6ms to 20ms. Thresholds were established (reflecting identification rate below 50%) in the 1.25ms to 2.5ms range. A high degree of accuracy in recognition persists to a level where much F1 and F2 spectral information is no longer present. The data indicate that when vowels are exceedingly short and cross the threshold level, the tendency is to categorize them as relatively neutral, lacking a [ǝ] choice, as either [a] or [o]. This gives credence to a macro theory of vowel reduction which parallels vowel reduction processes over time.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Weiss, Rudolf / Brown Jr, W. S. / Gynan, Shaw N. (1999): "Vowel length and quality: identifying thresholds of perception", In ICPhS-14, 571-574.