The Scope of Speech Acoustics
The function of speech communication is to convey information. At one level, the information is exchanged using words that a talker must structure and arrange in such a way that a listener can extract the intended information. At another level, information is conveyed about the talker’s attitude that may be communicated non linguistically (as in, for example, gestures or facial expressions) but also by means of prosodic variation. In spoken communication, we also learn something about the talker’s regional accent and possibly also socioeconomic status. If we cannot see the person (as when talking over the telephone), we can often judge if the person is a male or female and estimate the person’s age from the information conveyed by voice quality. All these strands of spoken communication are transmitted in parallel, which, as listeners, we decode effortlessly.
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