Interspeaker variability in hard palate morphology and vowel production

Adam Lammert*, Michael Proctor, Shrikanth Narayanan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Differences in vocal tract morphology have the potential to explain interspeaker variability in speech production. The potential acoustic impact of hard palate shape was examined in simulation, in addition to the interplay among morphology, articulation, and acoustics in real vowel production data. Method: High-front vowel production from 5 speakers of American English was examined using midsagittal real-time magnetic resonance imaging data with synchronized audio. Relationships among hard palatemorphology, tongue shaping, and formant frequencies were analyzed. Simulations were performed to determine the acoustical properties of vocal tracts whose area functions are altered according to prominent hard palate variations. Results: Simulations revealed that altering the height and position of the palatal dome alters formant frequencies. Examinations of real speech data showed that palatal morphology is not significantly correlated with any formant frequency but is correlated with major aspects of lingual articulation. Conclusion: Certain differences in hard palate morphology can substantially affect vowel acoustics, but those effects are not noticeable in real speech. Speakers adapt their lingual articulation to accommodate palate shape differences with the potential to substantially affect formant frequencies, while ignoring palate shape differences with relatively little acoustic impact, lending support for acoustic goals of vowel production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S1924-S1933
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy
  • Articulation
  • Morphology
  • Physiology
  • Speech motor control
  • Speech production

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