Objective:

This project describes vowel systems of several languages acoustically and compares them. The project's main interest is focused on languages with acoustically insufficient descriptions thus far, e.g. Albanian, Romanian, Ful, Mandinka, or Crioulo.

Method:

Selected speakers are asked to perform a reading task and to speak spontaneously. Vowels in all positions are segmented, labeled, and analyzed. Formant frequencies (F1, F2, F3) are extracted and the vowel systems are defined.

Language specificity affects not only the number of vowels and their features, but also the extent of variability and stability of certain vowels. A given vowel of language A might be quite stable, whereas the same vowel might exert high variability in language B. In the same way, vowels might be discerned differently. For example, pre-palatal /i/ and mid-palatal /e/ are discerned by F3 in Standard Austrian German (see diagram on SAG), whereas both mid-palatal /i/ and /e/ are predominantly discerned by F2 in Modern Standard Albanian (see diagram on MSA).

Application:

In forensic speaker identification, thorough descriptions of the languages in question are often needed in order to conduct a thorough comparison.