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This chapter provides an introduction to the acoustic and perceptual measurement of vowels. The measurable acoustic properties of vowels are formants, duration, pitch and intensity. Perceptual measurements include identification and discrimination of natural or synthesised vowels. After a brief review of the historical representation of the vowel space, technical details are given on measuring the acoustic properties of vowels, including perceptual measurements and speaker normalisation. This last plays a pivotal role in vowel space comparison among various language and gender groups. A few normalisation methods, along with the transformation of acoustic formant frequency values into auditory scales, are reviewed to provide a foundation for a cross-linguistic and curvilinear comparison of vowels. In addition, we describe competing models and theories and discuss correlations between vowel height and pitch, followed by practical scenarios and future studies on these measurements using software and internet resources.
Chapter 4 describes the fundamental research questions, empirical approaches and findings of language typology, a linguistic subdiscipline studying language from a cross-linguistic perspective. For analysing the languages of the world comparatively in search for structural commonalities (universals) and differences (scope of variation), methodological issues include considerations on the basis of comparison, sampling, and data sources. Typological findings are finally interpreted in terms of their motivations. The chapter ends with recommendations for further reading and a list of short exercises and ideas for small research projects.
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