Estonian adolescent speech II

Acoustic analysis of vowels


Keywords: Estonian vowels, formant frequencies, vowel trajectory length, vowel space area, age, gender-related variations

The paper reports the results of an exploratory study on the acoustic characteristics of vowels depending on the subject’s age and gender. The research material consists of a subset of read speech samples derived from the Estonian Adolescent Speech Corpus: 21 utterances per subject produced by 173 girls and 132 boys in the age range of 10 to 18 years.

The results show that both the formant frequencies and the vowel space area decrease gradually from 10 to 15 years in both gender groups and the quality of vowels stabilizes at the age of 15–18 years, whereas gender-specific differences emerge at the age of 12–13. These findings are in line with studies addressing the anatomical development of the vocal tract.

Age-related changes in vowel quality turned out to be the largest in vowels /i/ and /e/ and the smallest in vowels /u/ and /o/. The dialectal background of the subjects from Saaremaa was manifested by a more backward production of the /ö/-vowel and by a more fronted production of /õ/. Similarly to adult speech, adolescent speakers produce short stressed vowels more centrally than long and overlong vowels.

Einar Meister (b. 1957), PhD, University of Eastern Finland, Professor (pro tem), einar.meister@uef.fi; Tallinn University of Technology, School of Information Technologies, Senior Research Scientist (Akadeemia tee 21B, CYB-314, 12618 Tallinn), einar@ioc.ee

Lya Meister (b. 1957), PhD, Tallinn University of Technology, School of Information Technologies, Research Scientist (Akadeemia tee 21B, CYB-315, 12618 Tallinn), lya@phon.ioc.ee


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