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Estonian adolescent speech I. Acoustic analysis of fundamental frequency

Keywords: speech corpus, speaking fundamental frequency, voice mutation, age and gender related variations, F0 statistics

The paper introduces the Estonian Adolescent Speech Corpus and reports cross-sectional data on speaking fundamental frequency characteristics of Estonian adolescents. 175 girls and 134 boys in the age range from 9 to 18 years were recorded while reading a text corpus containing linguistically diverse material such as digits, phone numbers, time expressions, IT terms, sentences with name entities, phonetically rich sentences. The corpus also includes several samples of spontaneous speech elicited with pictures to be described and with topics for storytelling. In total, 70 items (ca 15 minutes of speech) per speaker were recorded, resulting in ca 70 hours of speech in total. The recordings were carried out in ten schools around Estonia.

F0 minimum, maximum, median, mean and range were calculated from read phonetically rich sentences for different gender and age groups. The results show that in male speakers, the F0 mean decreases gradually from 235 Hz to 217 Hz at the age from 9 to 12 years, due to puberty voice mutation it drops down 108 Hz (from 217 Hz to 109 Hz) at the age 12–15, whereas most of the drop (ca 60 Hz) takes place between 13–14 years. At the age from 15 to 18, the F0 stabilizes around 110 Hz. In boys, the F0 maximum is ca 290 Hz before and ca 145 Hz after voice mutation, the average values of F0 minimum are ca 175 Hz and ca 85 Hz, respectively. The F0 range in male speakers is ca 115 Hz before voice mutation and ca 60 Hz after voice mutation. The study revealed several individual differences in the beginning of the voice mutation period.

In female speakers, the F0 mean shows a gradual change from 245 Hz (9 years) to ca 210 Hz (18 years), the F0 maximum lowers from 330 Hz to 270 Hz, the F0 minimum from ca 190 Hz to 175 Hz, and the F0 range narrows gradually from 135 Hz to ca 100 Hz, respectively.


Einar Meister (b. 1957), PhD, Tallinn University of Technology, School of Information Technologies, Senior Research Scientist,


Lya Meister (b. 1957), PhD, Tallinn University of Technology, School of Information Technologies, Research Scientist,


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Automaatse segmenteerimise tarkvara. =

BAS SpeechRecorder.

CHILDES: Child Language Data Exchange System.

Praat: Doing phonetics by computer.

RStudio: Integrated Development for R.

SAMPA: Computer readable phonetic alphabet.

Transcriber: A tool for segmenting, labeling and transcribing speech.