This study focuses on the initial component of the stop consonant release burst, the release transient. In theory, the transient, because of its impulselike source, should contain much information about the vocal tract configuration at release, but it is usually weak in intensity and difficult to isolate from the accompanying frication in natural speech. For this investigation, a human talker produced isolated release transients of /b,d,g/ in nine vocalic contexts by whispering these syllables very quietly. He also produced the corresponding CV syllables with regular phonation for comparison. Spectral analyses showed the isolated transients to have a clearly defined formant structure, which was not seen in natural release bursts, whose spectra were dominated by the frication noise. The formant frequencies varied systematically with both consonant place of articulation and vocalic context. Perceptual experiments showed that listeners can identify both consonants and vowels from isolated transients, though not very accurately. Knowing one of the two segments in advance did not help, but when the transients were followed by a compatible synthetic, steady‐state vowel, consonant identification improved somewhat. On the whole, isolated transients, despite their clear formant structure, provided only partial information for consonant identification, but no less so, it seems, than excerpted natural release bursts. The information conveyed by artificially isolated transients and by natural (frication‐dominated) release bursts appears to be perceptually equivalent.

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