Raphael Werner defensed his PhD.

The key research question of the project PINTS (pause-internal phonetic particles), funded by the DFG (German Research Council), is: What are the contributions of pauses and selected pause particles to the phonetic encoding and decoding, which we assume are strongly linked to each other? This project focused on three areas:

1) Raphael Werner: In my dissertation, I focussed on pauses and audible breath noises that are produced along with speech. That included work on pauses across languages, speech tempos, and in natural and synthetic speech. For breath noises, I investigated how much information listeners could auditorily extract from them about the speaker's age and sex, and how the breath was taken (for example oral or nasal, inhalation or exhalation). Finally, I examined the acoustic characteristics of breath noises, correlated them with a physiological parameter (torso expansion), and used 3D-printed vocal tract models to model breath noises and approach how speech breathing may be performed in the vocal tract. [Full Abstract]

2) Mikey Elmers: This work explores the influence of PINTs in small-context recall experiments, develops a bespoke speech synthesis system that incorporates PINTs, and showcases the ability to use synthesized PINTs for creating perceptual studies that emulate real-world scenarios. I found that PINTs improve recall for speech synthesis in small-context environments. I have provided a technological contribution via a speech synthesis system that provides control over PINT type and placement. Additionally, this speech system is the first to render tongue clicks. Lastly, I have shown the importance of using PINTs material generated by a speech synthesis system for perceptual studies. [Full Abstract]

3) Beeke Muhlack: This PhD project focuses on the filler sounds "uh" and "um" which we call filler particles (FPs). They occur in many languages in similar forms, but each language seems to prefer one type of FP over another and they furthermore use a specific vowel in their FPs. In this project, I investigated the phonetic characteristics of FPs in different languages: in German, English, Spanish, and Egyptian Arabic. The aim is to find out whether there are language-specific patterns and/or speaker-individual patterns for filler particles which would contribute to the fields of second-language learning, speech synthesis, and forensic phonetics. [Full Abstract]