Predicting Epenthetic Vowel Quality from Acoustics

Adriana Guevara-Rukoz, Erika Parlato-Oliveira, Shi Yu, Yuki Hirose, Sharon Peperkamp, Emmanuel Dupoux


Past research has shown that sound sequences not permitted in our native language may be distorted by our perceptual system. A well-documented example is vowel epenthesis, a phenomenon by which listeners hallucinate non-existent vowels within illegal consonantal sequences. As reported in previous work, this occurs for instance in Japanese (JP) and Brazilian Portuguese (BP), languages for which the ‘default’ epenthetic vowels are /u/ and /i/, respectively. In a perceptual experiment, we corroborate the finding that the quality of this illusory vowel is language-dependent, but also that this default choice can be overridden by coarticulatory information present on the consonant cluster. In a second step, we analyse recordings of JP and BP speakers producing ‘epenthesized’ versions of stimuli from the perceptual task. Results reveal that the default vowel corresponds to the vowel with the most reduced acoustic characteristics and whose formants are acoustically closest to formant transitions present in consonantal clusters. Lastly, we model behavioural responses from the perceptual experiment with an exemplar model using dynamic time warping (DTW)-based similarity measures on MFCCs.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1735

Cite as: Guevara-Rukoz, A., Parlato-Oliveira, E., Yu, S., Hirose, Y., Peperkamp, S., Dupoux, E. (2017) Predicting Epenthetic Vowel Quality from Acoustics. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 596-600, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1735.


@inproceedings{Guevara-Rukoz2017,
  author={Adriana Guevara-Rukoz and Erika Parlato-Oliveira and Shi Yu and Yuki Hirose and Sharon Peperkamp and Emmanuel Dupoux},
  title={Predicting Epenthetic Vowel Quality from Acoustics},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={596--600},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1735},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1735}
}