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As part of a project seeking a better understanding of the links between speech production and perception, we have conducted experiments on the perception of Thai word-final stop consonants by native speakers of Thai and native speakers of American English. The final stops of Thai are never released audibly. In English, however, final stops occur with and without audible releases. Previous work has shown that released stops are likely to be more intelligible than unreleased ones. That is, identification is better when information as to place of articulation in the formant transitions of the closing articulatory gesture is supplemented by acoustic information in a release burst. Both languages have labial, alveolar, and velar places of articulation, but Thai also has glottal closure. Two native speakers of Thai recorded sets of monosyllabic words minimally distinguished by the four final stops . Randomized lists of the isolated words were presented to 19 native speakers of English who responded with the labels ‘p’, ‘t’, ‘k’, and ‘other’. They were also presented to 30 native speakers of Thai for identification in Thai script as words. The highly significant differences between the two groups imply the possibility that the closing gestures of the Thai stops include a component that compensates somewhat for the absence of release, a component to which the English speakers are perhaps less well attuned. Such an interference will be tested in future work by tracking of the gestures in both languages with the Haskins Laboratories magnetometer.
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