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Weighted Prototypes in Finnish and German

Janne Savela, Osmo Eerola, Olli Aaltonen, Weighted Prototypes in Finnish and German. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 135, 1530–1540, 2014.


This study explores the perceptual vowel space of the Finnish and German languages, which have a
similar vowel system with eight vowels, /A/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /u/ /y/ /æe/ /ø/. Three different prototypicality
measures are used for describing the internal structuring of the vowel categories in terms of the F1
and F2 formant frequencies: The arithmetic mean (centroid) of the F1–F2 space of the category (Pc),
the absolute prototype of the category (Pa), and the weighted prototype of the category (Px), in which
the stimulus formant values are weighted by their goodness rating values. The study gave the following
main results: (1) in both languages, the inter-subject differences were the smallest in Px, and on
the order of Difference Limen (DL) of F1–F2 frequencies for all of the three measures, (2) the Pa and
Px differed significantly from the centroid, with the absolute prototypes being the most peripheric,
(3) the vowel systems of the two languages were similar (Euclidean distances in Px of Finnish and
German 7–34 mels) although minor differences were found in /e/, / ø/, and /u/, and (4) the mean difference
of the prototypes from some earlier published production data was 100–150 mels.

BibTeX entry:

  title = {Weighted Prototypes in Finnish and German},
  author = {Savela, Janne and Eerola, Osmo and Aaltonen, Olli},
  journal = {Journal of the Acoustical Society of America},
  volume = {135},
  pages = {1530–1540},
  year = {2014},

Belongs to TUCS Research Unit(s): Turku BioNLP Group

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