LINGUIST List 21.3207

Sun Aug 08 2010

Review: Phonetics; Psycholinguistics: Hardcastle et al. (2010)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <>

        1.    Whitney Chappell, The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences

Message 1: The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences
Date: 08-Aug-2010
From: Whitney Chappell <>
Subject: The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences
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EDITORS: William J. Hardcastle, John Laver, Fiona E. Gibbon TITLE: The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences SUBTITLE: Second Edition SERIES: Handbooks in Linguistics PUBLISHER: Wiley-Blackwell YEAR: 2010

Whitney Chappell, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, The Ohio State University


The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences is divided into five parts: Experimental Phonetics, Biological Perspectives, Modeling Speech Production and Perception, Linguistic Phonetics and Speech Technology.

Part I of The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences investigates experimental phonetics with contributions from Maureen Stone, Christine H. Shadle, Jonathan Harrington and Hajime Hirose on laboratory techniques, aerodynamics, acoustic phonetics, and physiology.

In the first chapter, ''Laboratory Techniques for Investigating Speech Articulation,'' Maureen Stone catalogues the options available to the researcher in imaging techniques, point-tracking measurements of the vocal tract, and measurement of tongue-palate interaction. Stone explains both the strengths and weaknesses of imaging techniques such as the X-ray, tomography, MRI and Ultrasound and then analyzes point-tracking systems like the Electromagnetic Midsagittal Articulometer (EMMA), Electromagnetic Articulometer (EMA), and the Articulograph, as well as the X-ray Microbeam and Optotrak. Finally, methods of measuring tongue-palate contact are introduced. Stone concludes that while no instrument is capable of providing complete vocal tract information, a combination of these instruments allows for a greater understanding of speech physiology, disorders, articulation, coarticulation and rhythm, allowing researchers to test and challenge previous speech-based theories and models.

The second chapter, ''The Aerodynamics of Speech'' by Christine H. Shadle, introduces the basics of fluid statics, fluid dynamics and the properties of sound waves traversing fluids before applying these considerations to aerodynamically distinct tract behaviors such as respiration, frication, transient excitation (stops), mechanical oscillation (trills and voicing), and aerodynamic oscillation (whistling). Shadle introduces methods of measuring different types of pressure, considers the pros and cons of the methods specifically employed for speech, and elucidates several speech production models that incorporate aerodynamics. Shadle concludes that while it is difficult to model certain effects, the effort is imperative, as aerodynamics serves as the foundation for all speech production.

In the third chapter, ''Acoustic Phonetics,'' Jonathan Harrington outlines the acoustic signals produced by speakers' movements of their vocal organs. In his examination of vowels, vowel-like sounds, obstruents, and nasals and nasalized sounds, Harrington uses studies in acoustic phonetics in three main categories: the acoustic theory of speech production, linguistic phonetics and variability. Incorporating, spectra and numerous figures to illustrate his explanations, Harrington tackles topics such as formants, identification cues, place of articulation, and spectral shape.

Chapter four, ''Investigating the Physiology of Laryngeal Structures'' by Hajime Hirose, introduces the functions of the larynx and the effective means of studying their role in speech, including the standard laryngeal mirror, the fiberscope, digital imaging systems, electromyography (EMG), photoglottography, electroglottography, and MRI. Hirose also discusses the physiology of the larynx and laryngeal modifications in different phonetic conditions.

The Handbook's second part focuses on biological perspectives, with contributions from Janet Mackenzie Beck, Hermann Ackermann and Wolfram Ziegler, and Anne Smith.

In chapter five, ''Organic Variation of the Vocal Apparatus,'' Janet Mackenzie Beck separates phonetic variation, in which speakers use their vocal apparatuses differently, from organic variation, or the inherent differences in speakers' vocal apparatuses. The author addresses anatomical differences of the vocal organs, dividing these differences into three larger categories: life-cycle changes, genetic and environmental differences and the result of trauma or disease. Exploring the respiratory system, phonatory system, resonating cavities, stages of development, genetic and environmental impact and disease, Beck examines the factors at work in small, organic variation among speakers.

The sixth chapter, ''Brain Mechanisms Underlying Speech Motor Control'' by Hermann Ackermann and Wolfram Ziegler, introduces the cerebral organization at work in speech production taken from three approaches: electrical surface stimulation of the cortex, lesion studies on neurogenic communication disorders, and functional imaging techniques. Throughout the chapter, the authors analyze the physiology, networks and cytoarchitecture of the brain as well as the musculature involved in speech production in both primates and humans and its cognitive correlates. Ackermann and Ziegler also discuss effects of diseases and lesions on speech production and the functional imaging techniques that capture this relationship.

In ''Development of Neural Control of Orofacial Movements for Speech'' (Chapter 7), Anne Smith offers a comprehensive overview of studies focusing on humans' development of neuromotor processes that control articulatory movements. First, the central and peripheral mechanisms involved in speech motor processes are reviewed, followed by infants' and children's vocalizations and the development of speech motor processes, which are not fully mature until late adolescence. Finally, Smith turns to theories and models of speech motor development, which must take into account the factors affecting motor control development such as gender, feedback and children's sensitive periods of learning.

Part III, entitled ''Modeling Speech Production and Perception,'' includes chapters from Barbara L. Davis, Edda Farnetani and Daniel Recasens, Anders Löfqvist, Christer Gobl and Ailbhe Ní Chasaide, Kenneth N. Stevens and Helen M. Hanson, Brian C. J. Moore, and James M. McQueen and Anne Cutler.

In ''Speech Acquisition'' (Chapter 8), Barbara L. Davis investigates competing theoretical perspectives on the interaction of children's biology and cognition in their development of phonological competence. Comparing formalist phonological perspectives with functionalist phonetic science perspectives, auditory input and cognitive science models and perspectives, Davis explains that through multidisciplinary approaches, the remarkably diverse proposals that currently lack coherence may become more consistent.

Chapter 9, ''Coarticulation and Connected Speech Processes'' by Edda Farnetani and Daniel Recasens, discusses the theoretical explanations of overlapping movements of articulators in the production of a single phonetic sound, including locus equation, feature spreading, time-locked, adaptive variability, coarticulatory resistance, and the window model. The authors note that the complexity of speech production makes understanding the principles at work extremely difficult, and no current theory fully explains the processes at work.

Anders Löfqvist introduces the major empirical and theoretical studies at play in speech production in Chapter 10, ''Theories and Models of Speech Production.'' After introducing the speech signal itself, Löfqvist delves into the speaker's control of movement, planning and execution, the nervous system's role, coordinate spaces and structures, and the blending of gestures, all of which are essential to the speaker's ability to convey a message. The author incorporates experimental paradigms to account for the motor control and excess degrees of freedom problem, pointing out that future studies will continue to advance with more empirical tests and mathematical modeling.

Chapter 11, ''Voice Source Variation and Its Communicative Functions'' by Christer Gobl and Ailbhe Ní Chasaide, deals with the acoustics of phonation and its exploitation in speech. Explaining the source signal and several analysis techniques such as inverse filtering and source model matching approaches, the authors present voice source models along with a delineation of voice source parameters and spectral measurements. Gobl and Chasaide then describe voice qualities such as modal, breathy, whispery, creaky, tense and lax voice in terms of acoustic qualities, investigate the causes of voice source variation, and introduce voice source variation's role in both emotion and sociolinguistic identity.

Kenneth N. Stevens and Helen M. Hanson tackle ''Articulatory-Acoustic Relations as the Basis of Distinctive Contrasts'' in Chapter 12, presenting the most up-to-date views in speech production's quantal/enhancement theory. The authors argue that two main principles, the coupled resonator principle and the principles in charge of the relationship between aerodynamic force and the surfaces of the vocal tract, bring about articulator-free and articulator bound distinctive feature groups and natural constraints, and new evidence is presented to support the quantal relationship that emerges between articulatory configuration and acoustic output based on physical principles. Finally, the authors provide comparisons between quantal/enhancement theory and other production-perception theories.

In Chapter 13, ''Aspects of Auditory Processing Related to Speech Perception,'' Brian C. J. Moore covers certain processes involved in auditory processing, such as pitch perception, frequency selectivity, the perception of timbre and temporal analysis. Using psychoacoustic experiments, Moore analyzes the auditory system's frequency and time resolution and concludes that the auditory system's resolution is consistently high enough to identify sounds in spite of distorted conditions, exemplifying the robustness of speech perception.

James M. McQueen and Anne Cutler, the authors of ''Cognitive Processes in Speech Perception,'' analyze the mapping of acoustic-phonetic material onto cognitive representations, presenting models of lexical information storage and activation, the processing of segmental information, and cognitive processing of suprasegmental information. McQueen and Cutler also provide studies on restoration, categorization and compensation in speech perception and offer support for the continuing fundamental questions of the field as well, such as the argument for and against abstraction.

Part IV introduces linguistic phonetics, with chapters from Janet Fletcher, Mary E. Beckman and Jennifer J. Venditti, John J. Ohala, John H. Esling and Paul Foulkes, James M. Scobbie and Dominic Watt.

In Chapter 15, ''The Prosody of Speech: Timing and Rhythm'' by Janet Fletcher, the temporal aspects of the suprasegmental are discussed. Fletcher includes studies contributing to models of acoustic segmentation and analyses of prosody's structure, stress and accent, durational boundary marking, rhythms across languages, tempos and pauses, and she analyzes the impact of a language's segments, morae and syllables on its tempo and rhythm. Demonstrating that the timing of languages is not characterized by duration alone but also qualitative articulatory and acoustic differences, Fletcher shows the intricacies of prosody over time.

Mary E. Beckman and Jennifer J. Venditti offer an introduction to ''Tone and Intonation'' in Chapter 16, focusing specifically on Germanic, Chinese and Japanese languages. Beckman and Venditti discuss phonetic, phonological, symbolic and parametric representations, segmentation and anchoring, tonal-space and tonal-scaling parameters, and taxonomies and groupings, using spectrograms and fundamental frequency contours to illustrate the pitch contour phenomena. In spite of advancements in the study of prosody, the authors conclude that the creation of typologies with data on only a handful of languages would be premature.

In John J. Ohala's ''The Relation between Phonetics and Phonology,'' the author provides a historical account of the linguistic branches, strains between the two and their eventual division. Ohala also describes the importance of the integration of phonetics and phonology today and how they can be used to explain universal tendencies in sound patterns. The author concludes that even though the classification is inevitably subjective, phonology is the study of the persistent questions humans have about language, and it is the data, methods and theories in phonetics that are employed in this broader pursuit.

Chapter 18, ''Phonetic Notation'' by John H. Esling, deals with the International Phonetic Association's International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), used to catalogue distinctive sound contrasts cross-linguistically. Esling discusses broad and narrow transcriptions, iconicity, and IPA symbols and numbers before considering challenges to the IPA system, such as revisions to the place of articulation and vowel characterization, as well as notations for secondary articulations, junction and stress, articulation strength, details of the tongue, voice qualities and disordered speech. An elaborated consonant chart shows a greater number of articulatory possibilities, and Esling offers a new way of viewing the vowel chart.

''Sociophonetics'' (Chapter 19) by Paul Foulkes, James M. Scobbie and Dominic Watt introduces the integration of the theoretical constructions of phonetics with sociolinguistics. The authors discuss the external factors that contribute to phonetic and phonological variation, arguing that region, class and gender influence but do not determine the variants a speaker uses. Combined with the available variation and ideologies the speaker is able to ''project his or her identity and achieve particular communicative goals'' (717), and perceptual studies confirm that listeners retrieve indexical information projected by the speaker. The authors provide methods of data collection and analysis and explain the usefulness of sociophonetics in providing a baseline for normal speech patterns and aiding pedagogy, business, advertising, and forensic phonetics.

Part V, called ''Speech Technology,'' includes the work of Daniel P. W. Ellis, Rolf Carlson and Björn Granström, and Steve Renals and Simon King.

The first chapter of Part V, ''An Introduction to Signal Processing for Speech'' by Daniel P. W. Ellis, presents the basic concepts behind signal processing and information content manipulation. Ellis discusses the principles of resonances, sinusoids, Fourier analysis, filtering, and spectral analysis, adopting a ground-up, markedly unmathematical perspective, comprehensible for those with little experience in signal processing.

In Chapter 21, ''Speech Synthesis,'' Rolf Carlson and Björn Granström review popular approaches within the field, focusing on the methods most helpful to phonetic research. The authors discuss text-to-speech systems, the advances and future goals of speech synthesis, software and models, the generation of sound, articulatory modeling, and concatenating synthesized speech. The authors point out that speech synthesis is becoming increasingly applicable to many facets of daily life, noting its role in phone services and its ability to help those with disabilities.

The final chapter of the compilation, Steve Renals and Simon King's ''Automatic Speech Recognition'', discusses the challenging process of transcribing acoustic speech into words. Describing the cutting-edge techniques, models and algorithms incorporated in modern speech recognition systems, the authors offer statistical and data-driven information in their explanation of recognition and language and acoustic modeling.


The second edition of The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences provides an excellent panorama of the latest developments in phonetic sciences from some of the most renowned researchers in the field. This collection, including contributions from articulatory, biological, perceptual, phonetic and technological perspectives, is sure to serve as one of the most comprehensive resources for students, researchers and practitioners across various disciplines.

One of the volume's clearest appeals, its use of cutting-edge theories and models as well as state-of-the-art technology, does not inhibit the contributors' zeal to advance their disciplines. The authors are quick to draw attention to the current problems facing their field and the lines of ongoing research essential to its advancement, demonstrating a pervasive, keen awareness of the need to continue cultivating and refining phonetic sciences.

Another advantage to the contributors' unique perspectives is the emphasis placed on interdisciplinary approaches. Not only do the contributors encourage the collaboration of linguistics with other disciplines such as philosophy, biology, mathematics, computer science and sociology, among others, they actively demonstrate these intimate collaborations in their work. The notable advances in the second edition's revised chapters, not to mention the addition of ten new chapters since the first edition (1997) in different disciplines, demonstrate this openness to interdisciplinary partnerships.

In a less comprehensive resource, the disparate perspectives and goals of the chapters (e.g. the intuitive approach taken by Ellis in ''An Introduction to Signal Processing for Speech'' vs. the statistical approach taken by Renals and King in ''Automatic Speech Recognition'') would surely be a disadvantage to the overall cohesiveness of the volume, but I found that these varied approaches broadened the diversity of the compilation. It seemed to expand the availability of resources for students with different interests and experience, enriching the compilation, rather than detracting from its coherence. Additionally, the authors list dozens of other sources--either explicitly or in their list of references--for those seeking greater detail, allowing individuals in pursuit of different approaches or perspectives to locate them easily.

In sum, The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences offers a wealth of knowledge from experts across numerous disciplines, serving as a useful, comprehensive reference for students, researchers and practitioners alike.


Hardcastle, William J., John Laver & Fiona E. Gibbon, eds. (1997) The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences: First Edition. Oxford: Blackwell.


Whitney Chappell is a PhD student in Hispanic Linguistics at the Ohio State University specializing in the intonation-pragmatics interface and varied topics in Spanish sociolinguistics.

Page Updated: 08-Aug-2010