A series of listening tests with brief synthetic consonant–vowel syllables was carried out to determine whether the initial part of a syllable can provide cues to place of articulation for voiced stop consonants independent of the remainder of the syllable. The data show that stimuli as short as 10–20 ms sampled from the onset of a consonant–vowel syllable, can be reliably identified for consonantal place of articulation, whether the second and higher formants contain moving or straight transitions and whether or not an initial burst is present. In most instances, these brief stimuli also contain sufficient information for vowel indentification. Stimulus continua in which formant transitions ranged from values appropriate to [b], [d], [g] in various vowel environments, and in which stimulus durations were 20 and 46 ms, yielded categorical labeling functions with a few exceptions. These results are consistent with a theory of speech perception in which consonant place of articulation is cued by invariant properties derived from the spectrum sampled in a 10–20 ms time window adjacent to consonantal onset or offset.

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