Dept. of Biocommun., Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham, AL 35205
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1543
This paper reports the results of an acoustic study of vowels produced by Navajo speakers, which was supplemented by perception data using the method of adjustment. Analyses of vowels produced by male and female speakers showed these two groups distinguished long and short vowels differently. Male speakers had about the same formant values for both members of the long/short vowel pairs, while female speakers tended to distinguish long and short vowels by means of both a length and a vowel quality distinction. The perception data showed that when listening to a ``male'' synthetic voice all listeners (irrespective of sex) collapsed long and short vowels in the perceptual vowel space, selecting vowels that were similar to those in the male production data, but with more extreme formant values than those produced by the male speakers. One hypothesis is that Navajo women produce different long and short vowels, but when listening to a male speaker's vowels select as matches long and short vowels that do not differ significantly in quality. It is not known whether the men would listen to women's voices with women's mouths in mind.