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

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

A New Acoustic Reference Frame for Vowels

H. F. V. Boshoff

University of Pretoria, South Africa

We propose a new reference frame for vowels which is very simply defined in terms of acoustic measurements of the first three formant frequencies. A scaling discretization of formant ratios (SDF) is used to create a regular partition of formant space, depending on only one free parameter: the scaling constant R. It is shown that a one-to-one mapping exists between a subset of this partition and either the ‘rounded’ or the ‘unrounded’ cardinal vowels as recorded by their originator, Daniel Jones. For some purposes it may therefore be possible to replace the cardinal vowels with the midpoints of elements in the partition, which we call acoustic reference vowels. The value of R is experimentally determined to be 1.61±0.03. Two considerations taken from a communication engineering perspective are formalized, confirming the empirically determined value of R. In measurement terms, the SDF has the properties of a ratio scale.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Boshoff, H. F. V. (1999): "A new acoustic reference frame for vowels", In ICPhS-14, 1113-1116.