James Tanner


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Multidimensional acoustic variation in vowels across English dialects
James Tanner | Morgan Sonderegger | Jane Stuart-Smith
Proceedings of the 19th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

Vowels are typically characterized in terms of their static position in formant space, though vowels have also been long-known to undergo dynamic formant change over their timecourse. Recent studies have demonstrated that this change is highly informative for distinguishing vowels within a system, as well as providing additional resolution in characterizing differences between dialects. It remains unclear, however, how both static and dynamic representations capture the main dimensions of vowel variation across a large number of dialects. This study examines the role of static, dynamic, and duration information for 5 vowels across 21 British and North American English dialects, and observes that vowels exhibit highly structured variation across dialects, with dialects displaying similar patterns within a given vowel, broadly corresponding to a spectrum between traditional ‘monophthong’ and ‘diphthong’ characterizations. These findings highlight the importance of dynamic and duration information in capturing how vowels can systematically vary across a large number of dialects, and provide the first large-scale description of formant dynamics across many dialects of a single language.