eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1965
Linguistica Uralica cover
Linguistica Uralica
ISSN 1736-7506 (Electronic)
ISSN 0868-4731 (Print)

Duration Affects Vowel Perception in Estonian and Finnish; pp. 161-177

Full article in PDF format | doi:10.3176/lu.2009.3.01

Einar Meister, Stefan Werner


Identification of vowels in quantity languages is usually considered to be independent of vowel duration since duration is used to realise the quantity oppositions and thus supposed to not be available as a cue for other ­features. To test the role of microdurational variations in vowel category perception in Estonian and Finnish listening experiments with synthetic stimuli were carried out, involving five vowel pairs along the close-open axis. The results show that in the case of high-mid vowel pairs vowel openness correlates positively with stimulus duration; in mid-low vowel pairs such correlation was only found for some of the Finnish subjects. We explain the observed difference between high-mid and mid-low pairs with the hypothesis that in case of shorter percep­tual distances in vowel quality (high-mid area of vowel space) intrinsic duration plays the role of a secondary feature to enhance perceptual contrast ­between vowels, whereas in case of mid-low oppositions the perceptual distance is large enough to guarantee the necessary perceptual contrast by spectral features alone and vowel intrinsic duration as an additional cue is not needed.


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