Vocal-tract models in phonetic teaching and research

Authored by: Takayuki Arai

The Routledge Handbook of Phonetics

Print publication date:  April  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138648333
eBook ISBN: 9780429056253
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter starts with the history of physical models for human speech production. This is followed by a discussion of how these models are used for teaching phonetics and how they are applied to speech communication research. First, a series of physical models of human speech organs and the vocal tract are introduced, which includes the lung models, and the basic theories and concepts in acoustic phonetics are reviewed. By combining with an artificial larynx, the lung models simulate how we breathe and phonate. When the sound source from the larynx is fed into the vocal-tract models, we can produce certain vowels and consonants. The advantages of the vocal-tract models are apparent when one is learning the basic theories of speech production, such as the relationship between the vowel quality and the shape of the vocal tract, as well as the source-filter theory and the perturbation theory. In the second part, several extended cases of the models are discussed in terms of their usefulness for learning and teaching phonetics and conducting research. With our examples, we investigate the differences between the sound systems of different languages, such as. Japanese vs. English, as well as between child and adult, female and male voices, nasalization of vowels, and interaction between the source and the filter.

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