Skip to main content Accessibility help

Phonetics of Southern Ute vowels

  • Viktor Kharlamov (a1) and Stacey Oberly (a2)


This paper presents an acoustic study of the vowel system of Southern Ute, a Southern Numic Uto-Aztecan language spoken in southwestern Colorado. Previous auditory accounts proposed an inventory of five vowel phonemes that participate in three allophonic processes and contrast in length and stress. We investigate how the vowels are realized at the phonetic level by analyzing F1, F2, duration, spectral emphasis and f0 in over 6000 vowel tokens produced by eight fluent speakers (four female and four male). Our findings provide new phonetic detail for the earlier non-instrumental descriptions of the language, including both expected and previously unreported effects. We confirm the existence of five distinct phonemic categories but show that their prototypical phonetic realizations and positional allophones do not always match the earlier descriptions. We also describe how phonemic length and stress are marked in Southern Ute.



Hide All
Allen, George D. 1971. Acoustic level and vocal effort as cues for the loudness of speech. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 49, 18311841.
Barr, Dale J., Levy, Roger, Scheepers, Christoph & Tily, Harry J.. 2013. Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language 68, 255278.
Becker-Kristal, Roy. 2010. Acoustic typology of vowel inventories and Dispersion Theory: Insights from a large cross-linguistic corpus. Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA.
Beckman, Mary. 1986. Stress and non-stress accent. Dordrecht: Foris.
Berinstein, Ava E. 1979. A cross-linguistic study on the perception and production of stress. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 47, 159.
Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David. 2017. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer (computer program); version 6.0.28. (accessed 20 March 2017).
Charney, Jean. 1993. A grammar of Comanche. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
Charney, Jean. 1996. Ute dictionary. Ignacio, CO: Southern Ute Tribe.
Chladkova, Katerina, Escudero, Paola & Boersma, Paul. 2011. Context-specific acoustic differences between Peruvian and Iberian Spanish vowels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 130, 416428.
Delattre, Pierre. 1966. A comparison of syllable length conditioning among languages. International Review of Applied Linguistics 4, 183198.
Delattre, Pierre. 1969. An acoustic and articulatory study of vowel reduction in four languages. International Review ofApplied Linguistics 7, 295325.
Elzinga, Dirk. 1999. The consonants of Gosiute. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Arizona.
Eriksson, Anders, Bertinetto, Pier M., Heldner, Mattias, Nodari, Rosalba & Lenoci, Giovanna. 2016. The acoustics of lexical stress in Italian as a function of stress level and speaking style. Proceedings of Interspeech 2016, San Francisco, CA, September 8-12, 2016, 10591063.
Eriksson, Anders & Heldner, Mattias. 2015. The acoustics of word stress in English as a function of stress level and speaking style. Proceedings of Interspeech 2015, Dresden, Germany, September 6-10, 2015, 4145.
Flemming, Edward. 2003. The relationship between coronal place and vowel backness. Phonology 20, 335373.
Fry, Denis B. 1955. Duration and intensity as acoustic correlates of linguistic stress. The Journal of the Acoustical Society ofAmerica 27, 765768.
Gay, Thomas. 1978. Physiological and acoustic correlates of perceived stress. Language and Speech 21, 347353.
Givón, Talmy. 1979. Ute dictionary. Ignacio, CO: Southern Ute Tribe.
Givón, Talmy. 1980. Ute reference grammar. Ignacio, CO: Southern Ute Tribe.
Givón, T[almy]. 2011. Ute reference grammar. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Givón, T[almy]. 2016. Ute dictionary. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Glasberg, Brian & Moore, Brian. 1990. Derivation of auditory filter shapes from notched noise data. Hearing Research 47, 103137.
Gordon, Matthew. 2004. A phonological and phonetic study of word-level stress in Chickasaw. International Journal of American Linguistics 70, 132.
Gordon, Matthew. 2014. Disentangling stress and pitch accent: Toward a typology of prominence at different prosodic levels. In van der Hulst, Harry (ed.), Word stress: Theoretical and typological issues, 83118. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gordon, Matthew & Applebaum, Ayla. 2006. Phonetic structures of Turkish Kabardian. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36, 159186.
Gordon, Matthew & Munro, Pamela. 2007. A phonetic study of final vowel lengthening in Chickasaw. International Journal ofAmerican Linguistics 73, 293330.
Goss, James A. 1961. A short dictionary of Southern Ute. Ignacio, CO: Southern Ute Tribe.
Gould, Drusilla & Loether, Christopher. 2002. An introduction to the Shoshoni language. Salt Lake City, UT: The University of Utah Press.
Haynes, Erin. 2010. Phonetic and phonological acquisition in endangered languages learned by adults: A case study of Numu (Oregon Northern Paiute). Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkley.
Heldner, Mattias. 2003. On the reliability of overall intensity and spectral emphasis as acoustic correlates of focal accents in Swedish. Journal of Phonetics 31, 3962.
Herrick, Dylan. 2011. On Comanche’s central mid vowel. International Journal of American Linguistics 77, 373396.
Hillenbrand, James, Getty, Laura A., Clark, Michael J. & Wheeler, Kimberlee. 1995. Acoustic characteristics of American English vowels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 97, 30993111.
Huss, Volker. 1978. English word stress in the post-nuclear position. Phonetica 35, 86105.
Johnson, Keith & Martin, Jack. 2001. Acoustic vowel reduction in Creek: Effects of distinctive length and position in the word. Phonetica 58, 81102.
Klatt, Dennis. 1976. Linguistic uses of segmental duration in English: Acoustic and perceptual evidence. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 59, 12081221.
Ladd, D. Robert. 1996. Intonational phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Langacker, Ronald W. 1970. The vowels of Proto Uto-Aztecan. International Journal of American Linguistics 36, 169180.
Lehiste, Ilse. 1970. Suprasegmentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Lenth, Russell. 2018. emmeans: Estimated marginal means, aka least-squares means. R package version 1.1.3.
Lieberman, Philip. 1960. Some acoustic correlates of word stress in American English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 32, 451454.
Liljencrants, Johan & Lindblom, Bjorn. 1972. Numerical simulations of vowel quality systems: The role of perceptual contrasts. Language 48, 839862.
Lindblom, Bjorn. 1963. Spectrographic study of vowel reduction. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 35, 17731781.
Lindblom, Bjorn. 1986. Phonetic universals in vowel systems. In Ohala, John J. & Jaeger, Jeri J. (eds.), Experimental phonology, 1344. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
Lindstrom, Eva & Remijsen, Bert. 2005. Aspects of prosody of Kuot, a language where intonation ignores stress. Linguistics 43, 839870.
Lobanov, Boris M. 1971. Classification of Russian vowels spoken by different listeners. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 49, 606608.
Lunden, Anya. 2017. Duration, vowel quality, and the rhythmic pattern of English. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology 8, 27.
Maddieson, Ian. 2013. Front rounded vowels. In Dryer, Matthew S. & Haspelmath, Martin (eds.), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
McCloy, Daniel R. 2016. phonR: Tools for phoneticians and phonologists. Rpackage (version 1.0-7).
McLaughlin, John. 2006. Timbisha (Panamint). Munich: Lincom Europa.
Moore, Brian & Glasberg, Brian. 1983. Suggested formulae for calculating auditory-filter bandwidths and excitation patterns. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 74, 750753.
Oberly, Stacey. 2008. Phonetic analysis of Southern Ute with a discussion of Southern Ute language policies and revitalization. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Arizona.
Oberly, Stacey & Kharlamov, Viktor. 2015. The phonetic realization of devoiced vowels in the Southern Ute language. Phonetica 72, 119.
Oberly, Stacey, White, Dedra, Millich, Arlene, Cloud, Mary Inez, Seibel, Lillian, Ivey, Crystal & Cloud, Lorelei. 2015. Southern Ute grassroots language revitalization. Language Documentation and Conservation 9, 324343.
Ortega-Llebaria, Marta & Prieto, Pilar. 2011. Acoustic correlates of stress in Central Catalan and Castilian Spanish. Language and Speech 54, 7397.
R Core Team. 2017. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
Sapir, Edward. 1930. Southern Paiute: A Shoshonean language. Proceedings of the American Society of Arts and Sciences 65, 1296.
Schwartz, Jean-Luc, Boe, Louis-Jean, Vallee, Nathalie & Abry, Christian. 1997. Major trends in vowel system inventories. Journal of Phonetics 25, 233253.
Simons, Gary F. & Fennig, Charles D. (eds.). 2017. Ethnologue: Languages of the world, 20th edn. Dallas, TX: SIL International.
Singmann, Henrik, Bolker, Ben, Westfall, Jake & Aust, Frederik. 2017. afex: Analysis of factorial experiments. R package (version 0.18-0).
Sluijter, Agaath M. C. & van Heuven, Vincent J.. 1996. Spectral balance as an acoustic correlate of linguistic stress. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 100, 24712485.
Sluijter, Agaath M. C., van Heuven, Vincent J. & Pacilly, Jos J. A.. 1997. Spectral balance as a cue in the perception of linguistic stress. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 101, 503513.
Strange, Winifred, Weber, Andrea, Levy, Erika S., Shafiro, Valeriy, Hisagi, Miwako & Nishi, Kanae. 2007. Acoustic variability within and across German, French, and American English vowels: Phonetic context effects. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 122, 11111129.
Ternstrom, Sten, Bohman, Mikael & Sodersten, Maria. 2006. Loud speech over noise: Some spectral attributes, with gender differences. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 119, 16481665.
Thomas, Patrick. 2017. The central vowel of Kawaiisu. International Journal of American Linguistics 83, 539559.
Thornes, Tim. 2003. A Northern Paiute grammar with texts. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oregon.
Traunmuller, Hartmut & Eriksson, Anders. 2000. Acoustic effects of variation in vocal effort by men, women, and children. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 107, 34383451.
Vasilyeva, Lena, Arnhold, Anja & Jârvikivi, Juhani. 2016. Phonetic correlates of phonological vowel quantity in Yakut read and spontaneous speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 139, 25412550.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the International Phonetic Association
  • ISSN: 0025-1003
  • EISSN: 1475-3502
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-phonetic-association
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed