Formant measurement in children's speech based on spectral filtering

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25 Scopus citations


Children's speech presents a challenging problem for formant frequency measurement. In part, this is because high fundamental frequencies, typical of a children's speech production, generate widely spaced harmonic components that may undersample the spectral shape of the vocal tract transfer function. In addition, there is often a weakening of upper harmonic energy and a noise component due to glottal turbulence. The purpose of this study was to develop a formant measurement technique based on cepstral analysis that does not require modification of the cepstrum itself or transformation back to the spectral domain. Instead, a narrow-band spectrum is low-pass filtered with a cutoff point (i.e., cutoff "quefrency" in the terminology of cepstral analysis) to preserve only the spectral envelope. To test the method, speech representative of a 2-3 year-old child was simulated with an airway modulation model of speech production. The model, which includes physiologically-scaled vocal folds and vocal tract, generates sound output analogous to a microphone signal. The vocal tract resonance frequencies can be calculated independently of the output signal and thus provide test cases that allow for assessing the accuracy of the formant tracking algorithm. When applied to the simulated child-like speech, the spectral filtering approach was shown to provide a clear spectrographic representation of formant change over the time course of the signal, and facilitates tracking formant frequencies for further analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-111
Number of pages19
JournalSpeech Communication
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • Children's speech
  • Formant
  • Speech analysis
  • Speech modeling
  • Vocal tract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications


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