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Speech Motor ControlNew developments in basic and applied research$
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Ben Maassen and Pascal van Lieshout

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199235797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199235797.001.0001

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Variability of North American English /r/ production in response to palatal perturbation

Variability of North American English /r/ production in response to palatal perturbation

Chapter:
(p.53) Chapter 4 Variability of North American English /r/ production in response to palatal perturbation
Source:
Speech Motor Control
Author(s):

Mark K. Tiede

Suzanne E. Boyce

Carol Y. Espy-Wilson

Vincent L. Gracco

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199235797.003.0004

It is well established that the lowered third formant constituting the primary acoustic percept of American English /r/ can be achieved with different tongue shapes in production, which may be broadly grouped into ‘bunched’ and ‘retroflex’ production strategies. There is also evidence showing that some speakers select one or the other of these production strategies depending on the coproduction context, thus suggesting that the two are motorically equivalent. This chapter investigates whether such motor equivalence in /r/ production is a generally accessible property of fluency in American English. While the vocal tract morphology of a given speaker may lead her to prefer one tongue shape uniformly, introduction of a perturbation interfering with normal articulation habits may potentially induce that speaker to explore the use of an alternative shape. Subjects in the study were fitted with a custom palatal prosthesis incorporating a protrusion along the alveolar ridge, and observed during /r/ production with and without the prosthesis using electromagnetometry. A majority of subjects responded to the artificial palate by alternating between tongue shapes. Regardless of tongue shape, no subjects showed significant differences across condition in formant patterns for /r/. All subjects showed a pattern of motor equivalence between tongue constriction location and corresponding lip protrusion, as displaced by the palate or as an aftereffect of wearing it. These results are consistent with the primacy of acoustic goals in the production of /r/.

Keywords:   American English, bunched production, retroflex production, tongue shapes, motor equivalence, tongue constriction

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