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Version Okt. 2007. Speech Science. W. Barry I nstitut für P honetik, U niversität des S aarlandes IPUS. Term Programme 1. Wk 1 : • What is Speech Science - scientific goals? Übung 1 Wk 2 : • Capturing and representing Speech Übung 2

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Speech science

Version Okt. 2007

Speech Science

W. Barry

Institut für Phonetik, Universität des Saarlandes


Term programme 1
Term Programme 1

Wk 1 : • What is Speech Science - scientific goals?Übung 1

Wk 2 : • Capturing and representing Speech Übung 2

Wk 3 : • Speech production I – Breathing Übung 3

Wk 4 : • Speech production II – Speech organs and articulation; Übung 4

Wk 5 : • Speech production III – Speech motor control 1;Übung 5

Wk 6 : • Speech production IV – Speech motor control 2; Übung 6

Wk 7 : • Acoustic structure of speech I – Source-Filter

Übung 7

Term programme 2
Term Programme 2

Wk 8 : • Acoustic structure of speech II – Vowels

Übung 8

Wk 9 : • Acoustic structure of speech III – Consonants

Übung 9

Wk 10: • Variable acoustics – constant perception

Übung 10

Wk 11: • What do we perceive? Sounds/syllables/words?

Übung 11

Wk 12: • What happens in fluent speech? – Articulation and acoustics; Übung12

Wk 13: • What do we produce when we speak? Sounds/syllables/words?; (distribute trial exam)Übung 13: Discussion of trial exam

Term programme 3
Term Programme 3

Wk 14: • Discussion of practice exam

Wk 15: • Final exam


R. D. Kent (1997). The Speech Sciences. San Diego/London: Singular Publishing Group, Inc.

G.J. Borden, K.S. Harris & L.J. Raphael (1994). Speech Science Primer.Physiology, Acoustics and Perception of Speech. (3rd edition). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.

B. Pompino-Marschall (2003). Einführung in die Phonetik. (2nd edition) Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter

H. Reetz (1999). Artikulatorische und akustische Phonetik. Wissen-schaftlicher Verlag Trier (WVT).

What is speech science
What is Speech Science?


• Scientific goals

• Areas of Speech Science


• "Homework": a) Kent, Chap. 1, pp. 1-20 (K) b) Borden, Harris & Raphael, Chap. 2, pp.14-23 (BHR)

Deutsch: c) Pompino-Marschall, Teil I, S. 1-10; Teil II, S. 13-16 (P-M)

Scientific goals
Scientific goals

• Science: Seeks to explain the “Hows?” of the world

• What are the “Hows?” of speech?

• For any question “How?” there has to be a “What?”

• So … what is speech?

The systematic movement of our articulators?

The sound patterns we perceive?

The sound waves that travel from speaker to hearer?

Anything else?

What is speech
What is speech?

• All of the things mentioned ……. but more!

• We really need a “communication framework” for speech to actually take place

• The articulatory movements The acoustic pressure patterns The sound patterns that we perceive HAVE TO BE RELATED TO A MESSAGE

• ……… so what do we mean by “message”?

The message of speech
The “message” of speech?

• ….. is the information the speaker conveys to the listener

Which is?

• Mostly, the semantic content of the utterance (though this can be metaphoric or otherwise indirect)

• Also, the speaker’s attitude to the content

….. and to the person(s) being talked to

• But speech also reflects things about the speaker (indexical information: sex, age, health, mood ……)

• So the relationship between message and sound patterns is much more than how /i a u/ and /p t k/ are produced.

Speech as a meta message
Speech as a meta-message?

• Our definition of “message” can be problematical for speech research:

•Speech research is often associated with unnatural utterances …(something our definition rejects as “genuine speech”?)

Words set in carrier sentences

Word lists containing target sounds

Repeated phrases……. etc.


• Within the framework of the research question they DO conveyinformation to the listener (= to the investigator)

…. As a meta-message = a message about the linguistic form

So, within a particular theoretical question it can be valid material.

• But such speech can never be considered “natural speech”

So do we now know what speech is
So, do we now know WHAT speech is?

• A message encoded in language and expressed phonetically (i.e. through the medium of sound) …..

• ….. which means that a speaker is active, an acoustic signal is produced…..

• ….. and it is assumed that the speaker is talking to someone. I.e., a hearer receives and processes the signal (decodes the message)

This “speech chain” defines the broad area within which Speech Science asks its questions.

Speech chain

Observation domains

















Speech signal

Speech signal

timeas a function of

Observation domains within the speech chain (adapted from P-M. p.14)

Speech Chain

Speech chain ii
Speech Chain II

From Denes & Pinson, 1993, p. 5

Observation domains i
Observation domains I

  • Neural processes (production and perception) –

    increasingly of interest (psychology & medicine)

    EEG (Electroencephalography) and

    MEG (Magnetoencephalography)

    MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

    • Global information about neural activity:

    EEG and MEG provide high temporal resolution of activity in small areas of the brain.

    MRI shows activity in all areas of the brain but with low temporal resolution.

    • Nothing is clear from one observation (noisy signals). Patterns emerge from the average of many repetitions.

Observation domains ii
Observation domains II

• Neuro-muscular processes (production) EMG (Electromyography)

Observation domains iii

Nasal cavity

Hard palate

Soft palate







Observation domains III

• Articulation (Production) – Traditional observation domain in Phonetics.

Observation domains iv
Observation domains IV

• Acoustic Signal – Increasingly central to speech research from 1945 onwards.

• It has a central positionbetween speaker and hearer; it is the productof articulation and the input to the perception process.

• Different representationsgive us information about the distribution ofacoustic energy in timeor in frequency.



Observation domains v
Observation domains V

• Auditory system (the physiological and neurological foundation of perception)

Inner ear

Outer ear

Middle ear

Semi-circular canals balance nerve auditory nerve



Ear canal

Scala vestibuli

Scala tympani

Eardrum &Malleus




The peripheral auditory system (ear)

Observation domains vi
Observation domains VI

• Stimulus transformation (psycho-acoustics, psycho-phonetics, speech perception)

• What are the acoustic properties that keep vowels and consonants, monophthongs and diphthongs, stops and fricatives, voiced and voiceless consonants apart?

• The “same sound” is acoustically different when it is produced by different speakers – very different if the speakers are men vs. women vs. children. Why do they sound the same?

• The “same sound” is acoustically different when it is produced in different contexts.

Summing up
Summing up……

• Different observation domains give us different perspectives on what people do to communicate.

• Examining the phonetic events in relation to the message gives us:

a) a lot of knowledge about the structure of speech

b) insight into how the properties of speech affect the message

• This serves many purpose:

-The formulation of theories of speech (production and perception)

-The development of pronunciation-teaching methods and therapies for the speech impaired

-Applications in speech and language technology