Human phoneme recognition depending on speech-intrinsic variability

J Acoust Soc Am. 2010 Nov;128(5):3126-41. doi: 10.1121/1.3493450.


The influence of different sources of speech-intrinsic variation (speaking rate, effort, style and dialect or accent) on human speech perception was investigated. In listening experiments with 16 listeners, confusions of consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) and vowel-consonant-vowel (VCV) sounds in speech-weighted noise were analyzed. Experiments were based on the OLLO logatome speech database, which was designed for a man-machine comparison. It contains utterances spoken by 50 speakers from five dialect/accent regions and covers several intrinsic variations. By comparing results depending on intrinsic and extrinsic variations (i.e., different levels of masking noise), the degradation induced by variabilities can be expressed in terms of the SNR. The spectral level distance between the respective speech segment and the long-term spectrum of the masking noise was found to be a good predictor for recognition rates, while phoneme confusions were influenced by the distance to spectrally close phonemes. An analysis based on transmitted information of articulatory features showed that voicing and manner of articulation are comparatively robust cues in the presence of intrinsic variations, whereas the coding of place is more degraded. The database and detailed results have been made available for comparisons between human speech recognition (HSR) and automatic speech recognizers (ASR).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Noise
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology
  • Phonation / physiology*
  • Phonetics*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Speech Intelligibility / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult