3aSC39. The relative perceptibility of initial and final consonants.

Session: Wednesday Morning, December 4


Author: Melissa A. Redford
Location: Dept. of Psych., Univ. of Texas, 330 Mezes, Austin, TX 78712
Author: Randy L. Diehl
Location: Dept. of Psych., Univ. of Texas, 330 Mezes, Austin, TX 78712


Syllable inventories allowing only initial consonants predominate over those allowing both initial and final consonants in the world's languages. One possible explanation may be that final consonants are less perceptually salient than initial consonants. In this study the perceptibility of final consonants was examined relative to initial consonants. The relative perceptibility of final consonants preceding word initial consonants compared with those preceding word initial vowels was also examined. Fourteen subjects were presented with 147 different nonsense CVC syllables spoken by four talkers in two frame sentences in -15 dB S/N. Subjects were asked to write down the nonsense syllable that occurred in each frame sentence. Results indicated that initial consonants were significantly more perceptible than final consonants (p=0.0002) and that final consonants which preceded a word initial vowel were significantly more perceptible than those that preceded a word initial consonant (p=0.0001). Subsequent analyses of the nonsense syllable stimuli suggest that the relative perceptual status of initial and final consonants is partially attributable to differences in production. The findings from this study are consistent with the idea that syllable inventories in the world's languages are influenced by perceptual factors. [Work supported by an NSF Fellowship and NIH.]

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996