Formants in loud speech (Koenig & Fuchs, 2019)

posted on 14.05.2019 by Laura L. Koenig, Susanne Fuchs
Purpose: This study evaluated how 1st and 2nd vowel formant frequencies (F1, F2) differ between normal and loud speech in multiple speaking tasks to assess claims that loudness leads to exaggerated vowel articulation.
Method: Eleven healthy German-speaking women produced normal and loud speech in 3 tasks that varied in the degree of spontaneity: reading sentences that contained isolated /i: a: u:/, responding to questions that included target words with controlled consonantal contexts but varying vowel qualities, and a recipe recall task. Loudness variation was elicited naturalistically by changing interlocutor distance. First and 2nd formant frequencies and average sound pressure level were obtained from the stressed vowels in the target words, and vowel space area was calculated from /i: a: u:/.
Results: Comparisons across many vowels indicated that high, tense vowels showed limited formant variation as a function of loudness. Analysis of /i: a: u:/ across speech tasks revealed vowel space reduction in the recipe retell task compared to the other 2. Loudness changes for F1 were consistent in direction but variable in extent, with few significant results for high tense vowels. Results for F2 were quite varied and frequently not significant. Speakers differed in how loudness and task affected formant values. Finally, correlations between sound pressure level and F1 were generally positive but varied in magnitude across vowels, with the high tense vowels showing very flat slopes.
Discussion: These data indicate that naturalistically elicited loud speech in typical speakers does not always lead to changes in vowel formant frequencies and call into question the notion that increasing loudness is necessarily an automatic method of expanding the vowel space.

Supplemental Material S1. Number of productions for each speaker (s1–s11), loudness condition (N = normal; L = loud), and task.

Supplemental Material S2. Average formant values for each vowel, task, and condition (Hz). The delta columns show the difference between normal (N) and loud (L) conditions.

Supplemental Material S3. F2 and overall intensity.

Supplemental Material S4. Recipe text.

Koenig, L. L., & Fuchs, S. (2019). Vowel formants in normal and loud speech. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62, 1278–1295. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-18-0043


This work was supported by Ministry for Education Research Grant 01UG1411 and by the Leibniz Association.