8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Antwerp, Belgium
August 27-31, 2007

The Influence of Vowel Quality Features on Peak Alignment

Matthias Jilka, Bernd Möbius

University of Stuttgart, Germany

This study continues an approach that uses a unit selection corpus in order to investigate aspects of the phonetic realization of tonal categories. The focus lies on the peak position of German H*L pitch accents, specifically on the question of whether it is influenced by vowel quality. It is confirmed that vowel backness does not affect peak alignment at all. The distinction between tense and lax vowels initially promises to be relevant, as the H*L peaks seemingly occur significantly earlier in lax vowels. The effect is however demonstrated to be caused by the far greater number of lax vowels in the closed syllables found in the corpus. Finally, the feature of vowel height is revealed to be a significant factor (peaks are aligned latest in high vowels, earliest in low vowels). Various parameters (e.g., syllable structure, position in the phrase) are examined for interactions, but cannot account for the effect. While vowel height correlates with vowel duration, vowel duration itself does not influence peak position. The only possible explanation found involves peak height, which is intrinsically higher in high vowels, thus it may require more time to reach the peak.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Jilka, Matthias / Möbius, Bernd (2007): "The influence of vowel quality features on peak alignment", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 2621-2624.