I have a hard time distinguishing nasals and laterals on the spectrogram. They both seem to exhibit lower amplitude, and I think on average nasals have lower F1. Are there any sources on the acoustic differences across languages? Or studies on the acoustic parameters used for classification?


1 Answer 1


This may be a useful overview, also this (ultimately, Johnson “Acoustic and Auditory Phonetics” chapter 9, not online). Nasals have anti-formants at 1100 Hz and 3300 Hz, laterals at 2100 Hz, and the anti-formant of laterals is not as strong (the nasal passage is much larger so absorbs more sound energy). The formants are not as close together for laterals as they are in nasals.

  • Are you aware of a literature that looks at classification of nasals/liquids and the contribution of cues? I am simply wondering if there is none or my searching skill is failing me (more likely).
    – Annie Ito
    Jun 18, 2017 at 15:39
  • Not sure what you mean. E.g. perception of nasal vs. lateral with varying acoustic cues (manipulated / synthesized) to see what's most important for distinguishing l from n? If so, I don't, and I wonder if Keith Johnson might be interested in filling that gap, if it is real.
    – user6726
    Jun 18, 2017 at 18:12

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