Acoustic and perceptual similarity of Japanese and American English vowels

Kanae Nishi, Winifred Strange, Reiko Akahane-Yamada, Rieko Kubo, Sonja A. Trent-Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Acoustic and perceptual similarities between Japanese and American English (AE) vowels were investigated in two studies. In study 1, a series of discriminant analyses were performed to determine acoustic similarities between Japanese and AE vowels, each spoken by four native male speakers using F1, F2, and vocalic duration as input parameters. In study 2, the Japanese vowels were presented to native AE listeners in a perceptual assimilation task, in which the listeners categorized each Japanese vowel token as most similar to an AE category and rated its goodness as an exemplar of the chosen AE category. Results showed that the majority of AE listeners assimilated all Japanese vowels into long AE categories, apparently ignoring temporal differences between 1- and 2-mora Japanese vowels. In addition, not all perceptual assimilation patterns reflected context-specific spectral similarity patterns established by discriminant analysis. It was hypothesized that this incongruity between acoustic and perceptual similarity may be due to differences in distributional characteristics of native and non-native vowel categories that affect the listeners' perceptual judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-588
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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