Hartmut Traunmüller (2005) "Speech considered as modulated voice"

(Unpublished manuscript)
ABSTRACT. In addition to linguistically coded information, speech conveys necessarily also some paralinguistic information of expressive (affective and adaptive), organic and perspectival kind, but there are no absolute acoustic or optic properties of speech that convey any particular one of these kinds of information invariantly. According to the Modulation Theory, a speaker’s voice functions as a carrier that is modulated by speech gestures, and listeners have to demodulate the signal. Speakers compensate for impediments to modulation but allow differences in voice to take effect. Listeners “tune in” to a speech signal based on intrinsic and extrinsic cues and evaluate the deviations of its properties from those of a linguistically neutral vocalization with the same paralinguistic quality. It is shown how this process is reflected in the results of previous investigations of various kinds. Most organic and much expressive information is conveyed in the properties of the carrier. Expressive factors affect also amplitude and rate of linguistic modulations. Acquisition and use of speech require a neural linkage between perceptual demodulation and speech motor control (echo neurons). The imitation of bodily postures and gestures requires analogous structures evidenced in mirror neurons. Implications for distinctive feature theory and models of categorization are also discussed.

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Other publications by H. Traunmüller, Phonetics Lab, Dept. of Linguistics, Stockholm University

Posted in November 2005