Dept. of Modern Lang. and Linguist., Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853
Work by Strange and colleagues [e.g., Strange et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 74, 695--705 (1983)] has shown that CVC syllables without the steady-state vowel (``silent-center syllables'') are as accurately recognized as CVC syllables containing the steady-state vowel, suggesting that dynamic rather than static properties are more important in vowel perception. The present study expands this line of research by studying the identification of silent-center syllables as members of a vowel continuum. Two synthetic continua were presented to listeners for identification: A [bib--b(eh)b] continuum and a silent-center [bib--b(eh)b] continuum. The silent-center version was created by excising the steady-state portion of the original continuum, leaving the formant transitions intact. A comparison of the two identification functions revealed a significant shift, suggesting that full and silent-center syllables are not perceptually equivalent in this type of identification task. The results will be discussed in terms of theories of vowel perception.