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J Acoust Soc Am. 2013 Oct;134(4):2975-87. doi: 10.1121/1.4818740.

Acoustic and articulatory analysis of French vowels produced by congenitally blind adults and sighted adults.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Phonétique, Université du Québec à Montréal, Department of Linguistics, 320, Sainte-Catherine East, Montréal, Quebec H2X 1L7, Canada.


In a previous paper [Ménard et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 126, 1406-1414 (2009)], it was demonstrated that, despite enhanced auditory discrimination abilities for synthesized vowels, blind adult French speakers produced vowels that were closer together in the acoustic space than those produced by sighted adult French speakers, suggesting finer control of speech production in the sighted speakers. The goal of the present study is to further investigate the articulatory effects of visual deprivation on vowels produced by 11 blind and 11 sighted adult French speakers. Synchronous ultrasound, acoustic, and video recordings of the participants articulating the ten French oral vowels were made. Results show that sighted speakers produce vowels that are spaced significantly farther apart in the acoustic vowel space than blind speakers. Furthermore, blind speakers use smaller differences in lip protrusion but larger differences in tongue position and shape than their sighted peers to produce rounding and place of articulation contrasts. Trade-offs between lip and tongue positions were examined. Results are discussed in the light of the perception-for-action control theory.

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