Five commonly used methods for determining the onset of voicing of syllable-initial stop consonants were compared. The speech and glottal activity of 16 native speakers of Cantonese with normal voice quality were investigated during the production of consonant vowel (CV) syllables in Cantonese. Syllables consisted of the initial consonants /ph/,/th/,/kh/, /p/, /t/, and /k/ followed by the vowel /a/. All syllables had a high level tone, and were all real words in Cantonese. Measurements of voicing onset were made based on the onset of periodicity in the acoustic waveform, and on spectrographic measures of the onset of a voicing bar (f0), the onset of the first formant (F1), second formant (F2), and third formant (F3). These measurements were then compared against the onset of glottal opening as determined by electroglottography. Both accuracy and variability of each measure were calculated. Results suggest that the presence of aspiration in a syllable decreased the accuracy and increased the variability of spectrogram-based measurements, but did not strongly affect measurements made from the acoustic waveform. Overall, the acoustic waveform provided the most accurate estimate of voicing onset; measurements made from the amplitude waveform were also the least variable of the five measures. These results can be explained as a consequence of differences in spectral tilt of the voicing source in breathy versus modal phonation.

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