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J Acoust Soc Am. 1983 Mar;73(3):1011-22.

Onset spectra and formant transitions in the adult's and child's perception of place of articulation in stop consonants.


Stevens and Blumstein [Perspectives on the Study of Speech (Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 1981)] have proposed that the global shape of the CV syllable onset spectrum provides the listener with a primary and contextually invariant cue for place of stop consonant articulation. Contextually variable formant transitions are, in contrast, claimed to constitute secondary cues to place of articulation that, during development, are learned through their co-occurrence with the primary spectral ones. In the two experiments reported here, these claims about the relative importance of the onset spectrum and formant transition information were assessed by obtaining adults' and young children's identifications of synthetic stimuli in which these two potential cues specified different places of articulation. In general, the responses of both adults and children appeared to be determined by the formant transitions of the stimuli. These results provide little support for the claim that sensitivity to the global properties of the onset spectrum (as described by Stevens and Blumstein) underlie place of articulation perception or for Stevens and Blumstein's primary versus secondary cue distinction. Rather, these findings are consistent with the view that dynamic, time-varying information is important in the perception of place of articulation.

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