ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

3pSP5. The interaction of F0 and vowel quality in tonal and nontonal languages.

Jane S. Tsay

James R. Sawusch

Dept. of Psychol., Park Hall, SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260

The issue investigated in the present study was the interaction between F0 and vowel formants in natural speech. F0 and vowel formants are normally assumed to be independent of each other. However, there are systematic correlations between tone (F0) and vowel height in some tonal languages, including Fuzhou and Mandarin. This study examined changes in the first three vowel formants that accompany tonal changes in the speech of native speakers of Fuzhou and Mandarin. Data from English speakers with manipulated pitch contours were used for comparison. Preliminary results indicate that in Fuzhou the tonal changes seem to be accompanied by changes in the formants, with one vowel phoneme being replaced by another. By contrast, in Mandarin the tonal changes seem to be accompanied only by allophonic changes in the vowels. In both tonal languages the change in vowel quality accompanying tonal changes is greater than that accompanying pitch changes in English. Implications of the complete results for theoretical phonology will also be discussed. [Work supported by NIDCD Grant Nos. R01 DC00219 and T32 DC00036.]