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Discrimination of speaker sex and size when glottal-pulse rate and vocal-tract length are controlled

Smith, David R. R.; Walters, Thomas C.; Patterson, Roy D.


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Dr David Smith
Senior Lecturer, Director of Studies for Psychology

Thomas C. Walters

Roy D. Patterson


A recent study [Smith and Patterson, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 118, 3177-3186 (2005)] demonstrated that both the glottal-pulse rate (GPR) and the vocal-tract length (VTL) of vowel sounds have a large effect on the perceived sex and age (or size) of a speaker. The vowels for all of the "different" speakers in that study were synthesized from recordings of the sustained vowels of one, adult male speaker. This paper presents a follow-up study in which a range of vowels were synthesized from recordings of four different speakers-an adult man, an adult woman, a young boy, and a young girl-to determine whether the sex and age of the original speaker would have an effect upon listeners' judgments of whether a vowel was spoken by a man, woman, boy, or girl, after they were equated for GPR and VTL. The sustained vowels of the four speakers were scaled to produce the same combinations of GPR and VTL, which covered the entire range normally encountered in every day life. The results show that listeners readily distinguish children from adults based on their sustained vowels but that they struggle to distinguish the sex of the speaker. (c) 2007 Acoustical Society of America.


Smith, D. R. R., Walters, T. C., & Patterson, R. D. (2007). Discrimination of speaker sex and size when glottal-pulse rate and vocal-tract length are controlled. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 122(6), 3628-3639.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2007
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2008
Publication Date Dec 1, 2007
Print ISSN 0001-4966
Publisher Acoustical Society of America
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 122
Issue 6
Pages 3628-3639
Keywords Acoustics and Ultrasonics; Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
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