Spectral characteristics in linguistics

In summary, the Wikipedia article on prosody in linguistics says that there are multiple prosodic variables, including pitch, length, loudness, timbre, and spectral characteristics. Acoustic terms correspond reasonably closely to these variables.
  • #1
Forbes
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In the Wikipedia article on prosody in linguistics it says:

There is no agreed number of prosodic variables. In auditory terms, the major variables are:
  • the pitch of the voice (varying between low and high)
  • length of sounds (varying between short and long)
  • loudness, or prominence (varying between soft and loud)
  • timbre or voice quality (quality of sound)
In acoustic terms, these correspond reasonably closely to:
  • fundamental frequency (measured in hertz, or cycles per second)
  • duration (measured in time units such as milliseconds or seconds)
  • intensity, or sound pressure level (measured in decibels)
  • spectral characteristics (distribution of energy at different parts of the audible frequency range)
I have no problem with frequency, duration and intensity. However, I am at a loss to grasp what spectral characteristics refers to. I have done some Googling, but the explanations are too technical for me. Can someone please explain what spectral characteristics involve which is not covered by frequency and intensity?
 
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  • #2
My understanding is that each instrument produces a range of frequencies and not a single frequency. Even if the range is closely distributed around a mean frequency.

The way we identify different instruments playing the same note is by the distribution of energy across this range.

I found this relevant Wikipedia page on pitch

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_(music)
 
  • #3
For instance the trumpet and the flugelhorn have the same length tube (something like 5 ft), but the conical taper is quite different. This makes the overtone (octave) mixture quite different in emphasis (and very slightly in tone) which our ear hears as timbre.
 
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  • #5
I understand overtones/harmonics. So is that all spectral characteristics refers to when it comes to sound?
 
  • #6
Spectral characteristics means the magnitude and phase of the various frequency components into which any sound can be decomposed (this is known as Fourier analysis). I am not going to parse your question for the meaning of "is that all"
 
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  • #7
Thank you. I am now not so bemused as I was.
 
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What is the definition of spectral characteristics in linguistics?

Spectral characteristics in linguistics refer to the acoustic properties of speech sounds, including their frequency, amplitude, and duration. These characteristics can be measured using spectrographic analysis and are used to study and classify different speech sounds.

How do spectral characteristics contribute to speech perception?

Spectral characteristics play a crucial role in speech perception as they provide important cues for differentiating between speech sounds. For example, the frequency and duration of a sound can help distinguish between vowels, while the amplitude can indicate stress or emphasis.

What factors can affect the spectral characteristics of speech sounds?

Several factors can influence the spectral characteristics of speech sounds, including the vocal tract shape, the position of the tongue and lips, and the manner in which the sound is produced. Environmental factors such as background noise can also affect the spectral characteristics of speech.

How are spectral characteristics used in speech recognition technology?

Spectral characteristics are used extensively in speech recognition technology to identify and differentiate between different speech sounds. By analyzing the frequency, amplitude, and duration of speech sounds, computers can accurately transcribe spoken words and phrases.

What are some limitations of using spectral characteristics in linguistics?

While spectral characteristics are useful in studying and analyzing speech sounds, they do have some limitations. For example, they do not take into account the context or meaning of the words being spoken, and they may not accurately represent the way a sound is perceived by a listener. Additionally, different languages and dialects may have different spectral characteristics, making it challenging to apply universal standards in linguistic research.

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