Speech Prosody 2014

Observation of so-called “pursed-lip” and “curled-lip” utterances in Japanese, using video and MRI images

Chunyue Zhu and Toshiyuki Sadanobu
The Japanese language includes utterances described by the idioms “speaking with pursed lips” and “speaking with curled lips.” This study employs video and MRI imaging to examine the articulatory characteristics of these utterances (“utterances P” and “utterances C”, respectively) by comparing their articulation with that of “unmarked” utterances (“utterances U”). Through doing so, we arrive at the following four conclusions: (1) For the articulation of utterance P, the lips are projected outward, and rounded by expanding in the vertical direction and narrowing in the horizontal direction. (2) For the articulation of utterance C, curling the lips is not an absolute requirement. The articulation of utterance C is similar with that of utterance P in that the lips are projected outward and rounded. (3) Utterances P and C differ in two points: (a) Lips projection accompanies the lower jaw projection only in utterances P; (b) Lips in utterance P is wider than those in utterance C. (4) The shapes the lips make in utterance P, utterance C, and utterance U can be described as a circle, a horizontal rectangle, and a horizontal oval, respectively. (5) There are many facts that contradict the accepted theory that “Rounding the lips causes both lips to project outward. In reaction to this movement, the surface of the tongue is pushed toward the rear” (Koizumi 1989).