Effects of first formant onset frequency on [-voice] judgments result from auditory processes not specific to humans

Keith R. Kluender, Andrew J. Lotto

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31 Scopus citations


When F1-onset frequency is lower, longer F1 cutback (VOT) is required for human listeners to perceive synthesized stop consonants as voiceless. K. R. Kluender [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 90, 83–96 (1991)] found comparable effects of Fl-onset frequency on the “labeling” of stop consonants by Japanese quail (coturnix coturnix japonica) trained to distinguish stop consonants varying in F1 cutback. In that study, CVs were synthesized with naturallike rising F1 transitions, and endpoint training stimuli differed in the onset frequency of F1 because a longer cutback resulted in a higher F1 onset. In order to assess whether earlier results were due to auditory predispositions or due to animals having learned the natural covariance between F1 cutback and Fl-onset frequency, the present experiment was conducted with synthetic continua having either a relatively low (375 Hz) or high (750 Hz) constant-frequency F1. Six birds were trained to respond differentially to endpoint stimuli from three series of synthesized /CV/s varying in duration of F1 cutback. Second and third formant transitions were appropriate for labial, alveolar, or velar stops. Despite the fact that there was no opportunity for animal subjects to use experienced covariation of Fl-onset frequency and F1 cutback, quail typically exhibited shorter labeling boundaries (more voiceless stops) for intermediate stimuli of the continua when F1 frequency was higher. Responses by human subjects listening to the same stimuli were also collected. Results lend support to the earlier conclusion that part or all of the effect of F1 onset frequency on perception of voicing may be adequately explained by general auditory processes. Implications concerning VOT variation for stop consonants at different places of articulation or preceding different vowels are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1044-1052
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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