The Phonetic Potential of Nonhuman Vocal Tracts: Comparative Cineradiographic Observations of Vocalizing AnimalsTecumseh Fitch W.
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University and Program in Speech and Hearing Science (Harvard/MIT), Cambridge, Mass., USA Phonetica 2000;57:205–218 (DOI:10.1159/000028474)
For more than a century it has been noted that the adult human vocal tract differs from that of other mammals, in that the resting position of the larynx is much lower in humans. While animals habitually breathe with the larynx inserted into the nasal cavity, adult humans are unable to do this. This anatomical difference has been cited as an important factor limiting the vocal potential of nonhuman animals, because the low larynx of humans allows a wider range of vocal tract shapes and thus formant patterns than is available to other species. However, it is not clear that the static anatomy of dead animals provides an accurate guide to the phonetic potential of the living animal’s vocal tract. Here I present X-ray video observations of four mammal species (dogs
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