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J Acoust Soc Am. 2005 May;117(5):3196-212.

A modeling investigation of articulatory variability and acoustic stability during American English /r/ production.

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Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University, 677 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


This paper investigates the functional relationship between articulatory variability and stability of acoustic cues during American English /r/ production. The analysis of articulatory movement data on seven subjects shows that the extent of intrasubject articulatory variability along any given articulatory direction is strongly and inversely related to a measure of acoustic stability (the extent of acoustic variation that displacing the articulators in this direction would produce). The presence and direction of this relationship is consistent with a speech motor control mechanism that uses a third formant frequency (F3) target; i.e., the final articulatory variability is lower for those articulatory directions most relevant to determining the F3 value. In contrast, no consistent relationship across speakers and phonetic contexts was found between hypothesized vocal-tract target variables and articulatory variability. Furthermore, simulations of two speakers' productions using the DIVA model of speech production, in conjunction with a novel speaker-specific vocal-tract model derived from magnetic resonance imaging data, mimic the observed range of articulatory gestures for each subject, while exhibiting the same articulatory/acoustic relations as those observed experimentally. Overall these results provide evidence for a common control scheme that utilizes an acoustic, rather than articulatory, target specification for American English /r/.

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