ASA 129th Meeting - Washington, DC - 1995 May 30 .. Jun 06

4pSC5. Importance of tonal envelope cues in Chinese speech recognition.

Qian-Jie Fu

Dept. of Biomed. Eng., Univ. of Southern California and House Ear Inst., 2100 West Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90057

Fan-Gang Zeng

Robert V. Shannon

Sigfrid D. Soli

House Ear Inst., Los Angeles, CA 90057

Temporal waveform envelope cues provide significant information for English speech recognition, and, when combined with lip reading, could produce near-perfect consonant identification performance [Van Tasell et al., 1152--1161 (1987)]. Tonal patterns are important for Chinese speech recognition and can be effectively conveyed by temporal envelope cues [D. H. Whalen and Y. Xu, Phonetics 49, 25--47 (1992)]. This study investigates whether tones can help Chinese-speaking listeners use envelope cues more effectively than English listeners. The speech envelope was extracted from broad frequency bands and used to modulate a noise of the same bandwidth. Mandarin vowels, consonants, tones, and sentences were identified by ten native Chinese-speaking listeners with 1, 2, 3, and 4 noise bands (or channels). The results showed that recognition of vowels, consonants and sentences increases dramatically with the number of channels, a pattern similar to that observed in English speech recognition. However, tones were consistently recognized at about 80% correct level independent of the number of channels. This high level of tone recognition produced a significant difference in open-set sentence recognition between Chinese (11%) and English (1%, p<0.01) for the one channel condition where no spectral information is available.