Acoustic Correlates of Speaker Variation in Children Ages 8 -12

Student Author(s)

Bradley Fong

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown

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Listeners use perceptual and acoustic cues to identify speaker ethnicity and gender of adults from purely auditory information at better than chance levels (Lass et. al., 1979; Walton & Orlikoff, 1994). Is this true only for adult speakers? Perception of vowels is important to speaker identification as voice quality characteristics are more readily accessible in vocalic production than in the production of consonant phonemes. Vowels are acoustically specified based on their formant frequency patterns (Peterson & Barney, 1952). Hillenbrand et al. (1995) published target acoustic descriptions including temporal measurements, dialectal screening, and outcome differentiation for European American women, men, and “children” aged 10-12. Fundamental frequency (F0)—the characteristic resonance of the vocal tract—gradually lowers beginning with the onset of puberty, influencing the phonological space which could produce differences across gender, especially for the 11 and 12-year-olds. Results provide evidence to support a developmental progression with respect to age as well as significant findings for spectral parameters across gender.

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