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Concept: International Phonetic Alphabet


We present evidence that the geographic context in which a language is spoken may directly impact its phonological form. We examined the geographic coordinates and elevations of 567 language locations represented in a worldwide phonetic database. Languages with phonemic ejective consonants were found to occur closer to inhabitable regions of high elevation, when contrasted to languages without this class of sounds. In addition, the mean and median elevations of the locations of languages with ejectives were found to be comparatively high. The patterns uncovered surface on all major world landmasses, and are not the result of the influence of particular language families. They reflect a significant and positive worldwide correlation between elevation and the likelihood that a language employs ejective phonemes. In addition to documenting this correlation in detail, we offer two plausible motivations for its existence. We suggest that ejective sounds might be facilitated at higher elevations due to the associated decrease in ambient air pressure, which reduces the physiological effort required for the compression of air in the pharyngeal cavity-a unique articulatory component of ejective sounds. In addition, we hypothesize that ejective sounds may help to mitigate rates of water vapor loss through exhaled air. These explications demonstrate how a reduction of ambient air density could promote the usage of ejective phonemes in a given language. Our results reveal the direct influence of a geographic factor on the basic sound inventories of human languages.

Concepts: Mayan languages, Phonology, Phoneme, Linguistics, Language, International Phonetic Alphabet, Sign language, Tlingit language


Two calling melodies of Polish were investigated, the routine call, used to call someone for an everyday reason, and the urgent call, which conveys disapproval of the addressee’s actions. A Discourse Completion Task was used to elicit the two melodies from Polish speakers using twelve names from one to four syllables long; there were three names per syllable count, and speakers produced three tokens of each name with each melody. The results, based on eleven speakers, show that the routine calling melody consists of a low F0 stretch followed by a rise-fall-rise; the urgent calling melody, on the other hand, is a simple rise-fall. Systematic differences were found in the scaling and alignment of tonal targets: the routine call showed late alignment of the accentual pitch peak, and in most instances lower scaling of targets. The accented vowel was also affected, being overall louder in the urgent call. Based on the data and comparisons with other Polish melodies, we analyze the routine call as LH* !H-H% and the urgent call as H* L-L%. We discuss the results and our analysis in light of recent findings on calling melodies in other languages, and explore their repercussions for intonational phonology and the modeling of intonation.

Concepts: Phonology, Phonotactics, Syllable, Language, International Phonetic Alphabet, Stress, Vowel, Mora


AIMS: To test the hypothesis that exposure to ambient language in the womb alters phonetic perception shortly after birth. This two-country study aimed to see if neonates demonstrated prenatal learning by how they responded to vowels in a category from their native language and another nonnative language, regardless of how much postnatal experience the infants had. METHOD: A counterbalanced experiment was conducted in Sweden (n=40) and the USA (n=40) using Swedish and English vowel sounds. The neonates (mean postnatal age = 33 hrs) controlled audio presentation of either native or nonnative vowels by sucking on a pacifier, with the number of times they sucked their pacifier being used to demonstrate what vowel sounds attracted their attention. The vowels were either the English /i/ or Swedish /y/ in the form of a prototype plus 16 variants of the prototype. RESULTS: The infants in the native and nonnative groups responded differently. As predicted, the infants responded to the unfamiliar nonnative language with higher mean sucks. They also sucked more to the nonnative prototype. Time since birth (range: 7-75 hours) did not affect the outcome. CONCLUSION: The ambient language to which foetuses are exposed in the womb starts to affect their perception of their native language at a phonetic level. This can be measured shortly after birth by differences in responding to familiar vs. unfamiliar vowels. ©2012 The Author(s)/Acta Paediatrica ©2012 Foundation Acta Paediatrica.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Fetus, Linguistics, International Phonetic Alphabet, English language, Vowel


Scientific articles are retracted at increasing rates, with the highest rates among top journals. Here we show that a single retraction triggers citation losses through an author’s prior body of work. Compared to closely-matched control papers, citations fall by an average of 6.9% per year for each prior publication. These chain reactions are sustained on authors' papers (a) published up to a decade earlier and (b) connected within the authors' own citation network by up to 4 degrees of separation from the retracted publication. Importantly, however, citation losses among prior work disappear when authors self-report the error. Our analyses and results span the range of scientific disciplines.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, International Phonetic Alphabet, Author, Citation, Scientific literature, Retraction


The present study examines the extent to which increased nasal coupling affects estimates of glottal parameters derived from inverse filtering based on an all-pole assumption of the vocal tract. A series of steady-state tokens for five Swedish vowels were synthesized using the HLsyn quasi-articulatory synthesizer (Sensimetrics, Malden, MA). For each vowel, the parameter controlling the cross-sectional area of the nasal aperture, an, was systematically varied, while the other HLsyn parameters were kept constant. The resultant pressure signal for each utterance was subsequently inverse filtered, and estimates were made of five glottal source parameters (EE, RG, RA, RK, and OQ) derived from fitting the Liljencrants and Fant source model to the inverse filtered signal. The results show that when analyzing nasalized vowels using inverse filtering based on an all-pole assumption of the vocal tract, the RA parameter estimate-a main determinant of the source spectral slope-can be adversely affected by nasal coupling. The errors in our estimates were particularly high for the high vowels: this was true not only for RA, but for all the parameters measured. However, with the exception of the distortion in the RA estimate, the effects were relatively small, regardless of the degree of nasal coupling.

Concepts: International Phonetic Alphabet, English language, C, Vowel, Vowels, Nasal vowel, Nasal consonant, Nasalization


This study examined stops produced by 7 year-old Korean-English bilingual (KEB) children and age-equivalent Korean children who had learned English as a second language (L2) in order to investigate how duration of exposure affects the PHONETIC systems of their two languages. A total of 60 children participated (15 per group; monolingual English, monolingual Korean, KEB and L2 children). Word-initial VOT and f0 values in the following vowel were measured in both languages. Comparison of English and Korean stops produced by monolingual children showed that the two English (voiced and voiceless) and three Korean (fortis, lenis, & aspirated) stop types were fully distinguished. Like the monolinguals, KEB children produced English and Korean stops distinctively, indicating that they possess two separate stop systems. But while L2-learning children distinguished English voiced from Korean fortis, and English voiceless from Korean lenis, they produced English voiceless and Korean aspirated stops similarly. Compared to adult Korean L2 learners who did not distinguish English voiced from Korean fortis (Kang and Guion, 2006), the results here suggest that young L2 children express more sophisticated phonetic categories than do adult L2 learners. [Funded by NICHD (RHD061527A).].

Concepts: Phonology, Linguistics, Phonation, International Phonetic Alphabet, Aspiration, Voice onset time, Tenseness, Fortis and lenis


This paper investigates the nature of reduction phenomena in informal speech. It addresses the question whether reduction processes that affect many word types, but only if they occur in connected informal speech, may be categorical in nature. The focus is on reduction of schwa in the prefixes and on word-final /t/ in Dutch past participles. More than 2000 tokens of past participles from the Ernestus Corpus of Spontaneous Dutch and the Spoken Dutch Corpus (both from the interview and read speech component) were transcribed automatically. The results demonstrate that the presence and duration of /t/ are affected by approximately the same phonetic variables, indicating that the absence of /t/ is the extreme result of shortening, and thus results from a gradient reduction process. Also for schwa, the data show that mainly phonetic variables influence its reduction but its presence is affected by different and more variables than its duration, which suggests that the absence of schwa may result from gradient as well as categorical processes. These conclusions are supported by the distributions of the segments' durations. These findings provide evidence that reduction phenomena which affect many words in informal conversations may also result from categorical reduction processes.

Concepts: Affect, Sentence, Language, International Phonetic Alphabet, English language, Verb, Participle, Passive voice


This study aimed to investigate the differences in the force loss during simulated archwire-guided canine retraction between various conventional and self-ligating brackets. Three types of orthodontic brackets have been investigated experimentally using a biomechanical set-up: 1. conventional ligating brackets (Victory Series and Mini-Taurus), 2. self-ligating brackets (SmartClip: passive self-ligating bracket, and Time3 and SPEED: active self-ligating brackets), and 3. a conventional low-friction bracket (Synergy). All brackets had a nominal 0.022″ slot size. The brackets were combined with three rectangular 0.019×0.025″ archwires: 1. Remanium (stainless steel), 2. Nitinol SE (nickel-titanium alloy, NiTi), and 3. Beta III Titanium (titanium-molybdenum alloy). Stainless steel ligatures were used with the conventional brackets. Archwire-guided tooth movement was simulated over a retraction path of up to 4mm using a superelastic NiTi coil spring (force: 1 N). Force loss was lowest for the Victory Series and SmartClip brackets in combination with the steel guiding archwire (35 and 37.6 per cent, respectively) and highest for the SPEED and Mini-Taurus brackets in combination with the titanium wire (73.7 and 64.4 per cent, respectively). Force loss gradually increased by 10 per cent for each bracket type in combination with the different wires in the following sequence: stainless steel, Nitinol, and beta-titanium. Self-ligating brackets did not show improved performance compared with conventional brackets. There was no consistent pattern of force loss when comparing conventional and self-ligating brackets or passive and active self-ligating brackets.

Concepts: International Phonetic Alphabet, Metallurgy, Steel, Titanium, Stainless steel, Passivation, Corrosion, Bracket


To investigate the relationship of the vocal tract dimensions and dental arches in participants with substitution of palatal approximant /j/ for the trill variant of /r/.

Concepts: Human voice, International Phonetic Alphabet, Alveolar consonant, Czech language, Palatal approximant


To investigate the effects of alteration on speech articulation of adult patients between Hawley retainers and vacuum-formed retainers by an objective acoustic analysis of vowels and voiceless fricatives.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, International Phonetic Alphabet, Welsh language