Broadband spectrograms and computer‐generated spectra have been obtained of a trained Indian Hill mynah bird and its trainer each saying seven sentences composed of four to 12 phonetic segments. Comparisons indicate a remarkable ability of the bird to reproduce good approximations to virtually any spectral or temporal detail, although frequencies in the range of the first formant are attenuated by about 10–16 dB relative to human spectra. Fundamental frequency (F0) contours, rapid formant transitions, and turbulent noise spectra for fricatives and plosive bursts are especially well imitated. Contour shapes are better preserved than absolute formant or F0 values. Some vowel spectra have clear formant patterns but many have multiple resonances, formant splitting effects, and formant frequency positions that cannot be accounted for in terms of an acoustic tube model of formant generation. A new description of the behavior of the mynah syrinx is proposed to account for the observed acoustic patterns. One of the paired external labia in the syrinx is implicated as the vibrating source of voicing energy (analogous to the human vocal cords). Some or all of the formant resonances are produced by exciting the mechanical resonant modes of the internal and external membranes in the syrinx. The seven pairs of muscles which are associated with the syrinx are capable of controlling membrane tensions and regulating the positions of the external labia in the syringeal airways during sound production. [Research supported by an N[H grant.]
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February 01 1974
How Does a Mynah Bird Mimic Human Speech?
J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 55, 398–399 (1974)
R. Stefanski, D. Klatt; How Does a Mynah Bird Mimic Human Speech?. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 February 1974; 55 (2_Supplement): 398–399. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3437210
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