ASA 128th Meeting - Austin, Texas - 1994 Nov 28 .. Dec 02

3aSP7. Dialect differences in vowel production and perception.

Alice Faber

Haskins Labs., 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT 06511

Catherine T. Best

Wesleyan Univ., Middletown, CT 06459

Haskins Labs., New Haven, CT 06511

Marianna Di Paolo

Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Earlier work [Faber et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 94, 1865 (1994)] reported differences among American-English-speaking listeners from Utah and Connecticut/NY in perception of the HEEL--HILL and POOL--PULL contrasts (pairs that are nearly merged in Utah but distinct in the northeast US), measured by three tasks, labeling, AXB discrimination, and keyword identification. On these tasks, a few CT/NY listeners (those with parents from the southern US) performed differently from the other subjects. Their vowel spaces also were qualitatively different from those of the other listeners, based on acoustic analysis of three readings of the keywords. The CT/southern listeners had more high back crowding and did better on Utah POOL/PULL than the other listeners, while the Utah listeners had more high front crowding and did better on Utah HEEL/HILL. These results accord with the literature reviewed by Bradlow [Cross-Linguistic Study of Vowel Inventories, Cornell (1993)] relating listeners' ability to discern small vowel differences to the number of vowels in their language, but were tentative because of the small number of CT/southern subjects. The current study presents perception and production data from additional Connecticut/NY subjects confirming the original finding. [Work supported by NIH.]