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Artificial vs. natural environment


Which environments are to be considered artificial and which natural is a difficult question which will not be discussed within the framework of this section. From the viewpoint of a potential talker, however, the environment starts to be artificial from the moment he notices that a recording is going on. It is generally agreed that knowledge of being taped has a significant influence on speaking style. Consequently, whenever real-life data is needed, the appropriate recording technique is that of on-site recordings, with all the potential drawbacks with regard to signal quality. In turn, once it has been decided that known influences may be accepted in the interest of complete control over the entire recording procedure, including phonetic and linguistic aspects, the technical setup, and the recording environment , it is strongly recommended that arrange everything be arranged in such a way that the subject is not further disturbed by any undesired phenomena. In other words, in an artificial recording situation such as studio  recording one should try to provide the talker with the most natural environment possible.

The environment comprises a whole variety of factors such as lighting, temperature, visual impression and acoustics.

By ``natural'' we understand ``realistic''; for example a situation in which a realistic artificial noise  scenario  is presented to the talker is considered to be natural. The crucial point is that the talker must not be under the impression that he is to be deceived by some artifice.

Further discussion on the influence of environmental factors on talkers may be found in Section 4.2.4.

Recommendations on artificial vs. natural environment


As a rough guide to the conditioning of talkers by environmental factors we give the following general recommendations:

  1. For some types of real-life speech data on-site it may be preferable not to tell the person to be recorded that he is to be taped (see Section 4.2.2).
  2. In on-site recording situations, such as in a car, try to simultaneously record any speech related environmental data (e.g. speed of the car, temperature, time of the day, etc.).
  3. In an artificial recording situation, successful environmental conditioning of a subject can only be achieved if the talker does not have the impression that he is being subjected to unconscious manipulation.
  4. In artificial recording situations, avoid undesired environmental impact on the subject such as unreasonable room acoustics, insufficient lighting, or unusual low or high temperature. Be aware that this will definitely influence the talker's speaking behaviour.


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