In English and a large number of African and Southeast Asian languages, voice quality along a tense–lax dimension covaries with advancement of the tongue root in vowels: a laxer voice quality co-occurs with a more advanced tongue root. As laxing the voice increases energy in the first harmonic relative to higher ones and advancing the tongue root lowers F1, the acoustic consequences of these two articulations may integrate perceptually into a higher-level perceptual property, here called spectral “flatness.” Two Garner-paradigm experiments evaluated this interaction across nearly the entire range of tense–lax voice qualities and a narrow range of F1 values. The acoustic consequences of laxness and advanced tongue root integrated into spectral flatness for tenser and laxer but not for intermediate voice qualities. Detection-theoretic models developed in earlier work proved highly successful in representing the perceptual interaction between these dimensions.

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