Three production and perception experiments were conducted to investigate the role of the lips in Anglo-English /r/. The results indicate that the presence of labiodental /r/ has resulted in auditory ambiguity with /w/ in Anglo-English. In order to maintain a perceptual contrast between /r/ and /w/, it is argued that Anglo-English speakers use their lips to enhance the perceptual saliency of /r/ in both the auditory and visual domains. The results indicate that visual cues of the speaker’s lips are more prominent than the auditory ones and that these visual cues dominate the perception of the contrast when the auditory and visual cues are mismatched. The results have theoretical implications for the nature of speech perception in general, as well as for the role of visual speech cues in diachronic sound change.
Antje Mefferd (Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center)
Jonah Katz (West Virginia University)
Michele Gubian (IPS, LMU Munich)
Nancy C. Kula (University of Essex)