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Perception of devoiced /sil/ and /syu/ in Japanese: The "segment" reconsidered

Beckman, Mary; Shoji, Atsuko

We examined devoiced /si/ and /syu/ syllables in Japanese to see if their spectral and perceptual characteristic s conform to traditional accounts of speech production as a motor translation of discrete, static segments. Measurements of the lowest-frequency spectral prominences in the syllabic [J] of these syllables showed a spectral coloring of the fricative by the deleted vowel segment similar to fricative-vowel coarticulation in other languages.

Perception tests showed that Japanese listeners can use this spectral coloring as a cue to the identity of the underlying vowel, although identification was substantially less than perfect, varying with the strength of the spectral coloring.

These results suggest that a supposedly lower-level motor interaction between the fricative and the vowel can occur before a higher-level process deletes the vowel, contradicting the order implied by traditional accounts.

This paper is copyrighted, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) - see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
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