ASA 126th Meeting Denver 1993 October 4-8

5aSP12. Can you rustle up some attention?: Further results on breath sounds in synthesis.

Sonya M. Sheffert

Haskins Labs., 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT 06511, and Univ. of Connecticut

D. H. Whalen

Haskins Labs., New Haven, CT 06511

Charles E. Hoequist

BNR, Inc., Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

During conversation, speakers typically take a breath when preparing to speak. At the previous meeting [Whalen and Hoequist, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 93, 2298(A) (1993)], it was shown that subjects were significantly more accurate at transcribing synthesized sentences that were preceded by a (naturally produced) breath intake than those that were not. It was concluded that the perception of synthetic speech is facilitated by the addition of a breath, presumably because it increased the naturalness of the stimuli. However, there is the possibility that this result is simply due to the extra attention-getting effect of the breath between the warning tone and the sentence. To test this possibility, the breath was replaced with the sound of rustling leaves. The rustling sounds matched the breaths in duration and loudness. The results should tell us whether the presence or absence of a breath before a synthesized sentence functions as a cue for the upcoming speech, or merely as a general attention-orienting sound. [Work supported by NIH Grant No. HD-01994.]