Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 November 2010
The role of outliers in vowel distributions is examined through an experiment that registers subjects' assessments of symmetrical and asymmetrical distributions. Subjects first scaled their subjective impressions of a series of six resynthesized tokens of the word bad ranging from low front to upper mid front. They were then asked to register on this scale their overall impressions of four series of five phrases including bad: low symmetrical, low with a very low outlier, high symmetrical, high with a very high outlier. Subjects show the capacity to integrate outliers into their overall assessments in a manner consistent with their acoustic properties. The effect of low outliers was significantly greater, reflecting the socially marked status of this form in the Philadelphia community.