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Journal Articles Ecological Psychology Year : 2011

Vocal imitations and the identification of sound events


It is commonly observed that a speaker vocally imitates a sound that she or he intends to communicate to an interlocutor. We report on an experiment that examined the assumption that vocal imitations can e ffectively communicate a referent sound, and that they do so by conveying the features necessary for the identifi cation of the referent sound event. Subjects were required to sort a set of vocal imitations of everyday sounds. The resulting clusters corresponded in most of the cases to the categories of the referent sound events, indicating that the imitations enabled the listeners to recover what was imitated. Furthermore, a binary decision tree analysis showed that a few characteristic acoustic features predicted the clusters. These features also predicted the classi fication of the referent sounds, but did not generalize to the categorization of other sounds. This showed that, for the speaker, vocally imitating a sound consists of conveying the acoustic features important for recognition, within the constraints of human vocal production. As such vocal imitations prove to be a phenomenon potentially useful to study sound identifi cation.
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hal-00717963 , version 1 (14-07-2012)


  • HAL Id : hal-00717963 , version 1


Guillaume Lemaitre, Arnaud Dessein, Patrick Susini, Karine Aura. Vocal imitations and the identification of sound events. Ecological Psychology, 2011, 23 (4), pp.267-307. ⟨hal-00717963⟩
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