Three‐dimensional tongue surface shapes of English consonants and vowels

Maureen Stone, Andrew Lundberg
1996 Journal of the Acoustical Society of America  
This paper presents three-dimensional tongue surfaces reconstructed from multiple coronal cross-sectional slices of the tongue. Surfaces were reconstructed for sustained vocalizations of the American English sounds /{, (, |, }, " Ä, Å, o, *, #, É, l, s, b, , n, G/. Electropalatography ͑EPG͒ data were also collected for the sounds to compare tongue surface shapes with tongue-palate contact patterns. The study was interested also in whether 3-D surface shapes of the tongue were different for
more » ... different for consonants and vowels. Previous research and speculation had found that there were differences in production, acoustics, and linguistic usage between the two groups. The present study found that four classes of tongue shape were adequate to categorize all the sounds measured. These classes were front raising, complete groove, back raising, and two-point displacement. The first and third classes have been documented before in the midsagittal plane ͓cf. R. Harshman, P. Ladefoged, and L. Goldstein, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 62, 693-707 ͑1976͔͒. The first three classes contained both vowels and consonants, the last only consonants. Electropalatographic patterns of the sounds indicated three categories of tongue-palate contact: bilateral, cross-sectional, and combination of the two. Vowels used only the first pattern, consonants used all three. The EPG data provided an observable distinction in contact pattern between consonants and vowels. The ultrasound tongue surface data did not. The conclusion was that the tongue actually has a limited repertoire of shapes and positions them against the palate in different ways for consonants versus vowels to create narrow channels, divert airflow, and produce sound.
doi:10.1121/1.414969 pmid:8655804 fatcat:j3t46c5xafhyvcbimsvjjdu2di