Predictability of stop consonant phonetics across talkers: Between-category and within-category dependencies among cues for place and voice

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The present study investigates patterns of covariation among acoustic properties of stop consonants in a large multi-talker corpus of American English connected speech. Relations among talker means for different stops on the same dimension (between-category covariation) were considerably stronger than those for different dimensions of the same stop (within-category covariation). The existence of between-category covariation supports a uniformity principle that restricts the mapping from phonological features to phonetic targets in the sound system of each speaker. This principle was formalized with factor analysis, in which observed covariation derives from a lower-dimensional space of talker variation. Knowledge of between-category phonetic covariation could facilitate perceptual adaptation to novel talkers by providing a rational basis for generalizing idiosyncratic properties to several sounds on the basis of limited exposure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20170047
JournalLinguistics Vanguard
Issue numbers2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2018


  • factor analysis
  • phonetic covariation
  • predictability
  • stop consonants
  • talker variability

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