Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 24 of 24
  • Cutler, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2014). How prosody is both mandatory and optional. In J. Caspers, Y. Chen, W. Heeren, J. Pacilly, N. O. Schiller, & E. Van Zanten (Eds.), Above and Beyond the Segments: Experimental linguistics and phonetics (pp. 71-82). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

    Abstract

    Speech signals originate as a sequence of linguistic units selected by speakers, but these units are necessarily realised in the suprasegmental dimensions of time, frequency and amplitude. For this reason prosodic structure has been viewed as a mandatory target of language processing by both speakers and listeners. In apparent contradiction, however, prosody has also been argued to be ancillary rather than core linguistic structure, making processing of prosodic structure essentially optional. In the present tribute to one of the luminaries of prosodic research for the past quarter century, we review evidence from studies of the processing of lexical stress and focal accent which reconciles these views and shows that both claims are, each in their own way, fully true.
  • Cutler, A. (2014). In thrall to the vocabulary. Acoustics Australia, 42, 84-89.

    Abstract

    Vocabularies contain hundreds of thousands of words built from only a handful of phonemes; longer words inevitably tend to contain shorter ones. Recognising speech thus requires distinguishing intended words from accidentally present ones. Acoustic information in speech is used wherever it contributes significantly to this process; but as this review shows, its contribution differs across languages, with the consequences of this including: identical and equivalently present information distinguishing the same phonemes being used in Polish but not in German, or in English but not in Italian; identical stress cues being used in Dutch but not in English; expectations about likely embedding patterns differing across English, French, Japanese.
  • Junge, C., & Cutler, A. (2014). Early word recognition and later language skills. Brain sciences, 4(4), 532-559. doi:10.3390/brainsci4040532.

    Abstract

    Recent behavioral and electrophysiological evidence has highlighted the long-term importance for language skills of an early ability to recognize words in continuous speech. We here present further tests of this long-term link in the form of follow-up studies conducted with two (separate) groups of infants who had earlier participated in speech segmentation tasks. Each study extends prior follow-up tests: Study 1 by using a novel follow-up measure that taps into online processing, Study 2 by assessing language performance relationships over a longer time span than previously tested. Results of Study 1 show that brain correlates of speech segmentation ability at 10 months are positively related to 16-month-olds’ target fixations in a looking-while-listening task. Results of Study 2 show that infant speech segmentation ability no longer directly predicts language profiles at the age of five. However, a meta-analysis across our results and those of similar studies (Study 3) reveals that age at follow-up does not moderate effect size. Together, the results suggest that infants’ ability to recognize words in speech certainly benefits early vocabulary development; further observed relationships of later language skills to early word recognition may be consequent upon this vocabulary size effect.
  • Junge, C., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Successful word recognition by 10-month-olds given continuous speech both at initial exposure and test. Infancy, 19(2), 179-193. doi:10.1111/infa.12040.

    Abstract

    Most words that infants hear occur within fluent speech. To compile a vocabulary, infants therefore need to segment words from speech contexts. This study is the first to investigate whether infants (here: 10-month-olds) can recognize words when both initial exposure and test presentation are in continuous speech. Electrophysiological evidence attests that this indeed occurs: An increased extended negativity (word recognition effect) appears for familiarized target words relative to control words. This response proved constant at the individual level: Only infants who showed this negativity at test had shown such a response, within six repetitions after first occurrence, during familiarization.
  • Tuinman, A., Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2014). Use of syntax in perceptual compensation for phonological reduction. Language and Speech, 57, 68-85. doi:10.1177/0023830913479106.

    Abstract

    Listeners resolve ambiguity in speech by consulting context. Extensive research on this issue has largely relied on continua of sounds constructed to vary incrementally between two phonemic endpoints. In this study we presented listeners instead with phonetic ambiguity of a kind with which they have natural experience: varying degrees of word-final /t/-reduction. In two experiments, Dutch listeners decided whether or not the verb in a sentence such as Maar zij ren(t) soms ‘But she sometimes run(s)’ ended in /t/. In Dutch, presence versus absence of final /t/ distinguishes third- from first-person singular present-tense verbs. Acoustic evidence for /t/ varied from clear to absent, and immediately preceding phonetic context was consistent with more versus less likely deletion of /t/. In both experiments, listeners reported more /t/s in sentences in which /t/ would be syntactically correct. In Experiment 1, the disambiguating syntactic information preceded the target verb, as above, while in Experiment 2, it followed the verb. The syntactic bias was greater for fast than for slow responses in Experiment 1, but no such difference appeared in Experiment 2. We conclude that syntactic information does not directly influence pre-lexical processing, but is called upon in making phoneme decisions.
  • Van der Zande, P., Jesse, A., & Cutler, A. (2014). Cross-speaker generalisation in two phoneme-level perceptual adaptation processes. Journal of Phonetics, 43, 38-46. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2014.01.003.

    Abstract

    Speech perception is shaped by listeners' prior experience with speakers. Listeners retune their phonetic category boundaries after encountering ambiguous sounds in order to deal with variations between speakers. Repeated exposure to an unambiguous sound, on the other hand, leads to a decrease in sensitivity to the features of that particular sound. This study investigated whether these changes in the listeners' perceptual systems can generalise to the perception of speech from a novel speaker. Specifically, the experiments looked at whether visual information about the identity of the speaker could prevent generalisation from occurring. In Experiment 1, listeners retuned auditory category boundaries using audiovisual speech input. This shift in the category boundaries affected perception of speech from both the exposure speaker and a novel speaker. In Experiment 2, listeners were repeatedly exposed to unambiguous speech either auditorily or audiovisually, leading to a decrease in sensitivity to the features of the exposure sound. Here, too, the changes affected the perception of both the exposure speaker and the novel speaker. Together, these results indicate that changes in the perceptual system can affect the perception of speech from a novel speaker and that visual speaker identity information did not prevent this generalisation.
  • Van der Zande, P., Jesse, A., & Cutler, A. (2014). Hearing words helps seeing words: A cross-modal word repetition effect. Speech Communication, 59, 31-43. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2014.01.001.

    Abstract

    Watching a speaker say words benefits subsequent auditory recognition of the same words. In this study, we tested whether hearing words also facilitates subsequent phonological processing from visual speech, and if so, whether speaker repetition influences the magnitude of this word repetition priming. We used long-term cross-modal repetition priming as a means to investigate the underlying lexical representations involved in listening to and seeing speech. In Experiment 1, listeners identified auditory-only words during exposure and visual-only words at test. Words at test were repeated or new and produced by the exposure speaker or a novel speaker. Results showed a significant effect of cross-modal word repetition priming but this was unaffected by speaker changes. Experiment 2 added an explicit recognition task at test. Listeners’ lipreading performance was again improved by prior exposure to auditory words. Explicit recognition memory was poor, and neither word repetition nor speaker repetition improved it. This suggests that cross-modal repetition priming is neither mediated by explicit memory nor improved by speaker information. Our results suggest that phonological representations in the lexicon are shared across auditory and visual processing, and that speaker information is not transferred across modalities at the lexical level.
  • Warner, N., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2014). Tracking perception of the sounds of English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135, 2295-3006. doi:10.1121/1.4870486.

    Abstract

    Twenty American English listeners identified gated fragments of all 2288 possible English within-word and cross-word diphones, providing a total of 538 560 phoneme categorizations. The results show orderly uptake of acoustic information in the signal and provide a view of where information about segments occurs in time. Information locus depends on each speech sound’s identity and phonological features. Affricates and diphthongs have highly localized information so that listeners’ perceptual accuracy rises during a confined time range. Stops and sonorants have more distributed and gradually appearing information. The identity and phonological features (e.g., vowel vs consonant) of the neighboring segment also influences when acoustic information about a segment is available. Stressed vowels are perceived significantly more accurately than unstressed vowels, but this effect is greater for lax vowels than for tense vowels or diphthongs. The dataset charts the availability of perceptual cues to segment identity across time for the full phoneme repertoire of English in all attested phonetic contexts.
  • Cutler, A. (1994). How human speech recognition is affected by phonological diversity among languages. In R. Togneri (Ed.), Proceedings of the fifth Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology: Vol. 1 (pp. 285-288). Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association.

    Abstract

    Listeners process spoken language in ways which are adapted to the phonological structure of their native language. As a consequence, non-native speakers do not listen to a language in the same way as native speakers; moreover, listeners may use their native language listening procedures inappropriately with foreign input. With sufficient experience, however, it may be possible to inhibit this latter (counter-productive) behavior.
  • Cutler, A., & Young, D. (1994). Rhythmic structure of word blends in English. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (pp. 1407-1410). Kobe: Acoustical Society of Japan.

    Abstract

    Word blends combine fragments from two words, either in speech errors or when a new word is created. Previous work has demonstrated that in Japanese, such blends preserve moraic structure; in English they do not. A similar effect of moraic structure is observed in perceptual research on segmentation of continuous speech in Japanese; English listeners, by contrast, exploit stress units in segmentation, suggesting that a general rhythmic constraint may underlie both findings. The present study examined whether mis parallel would also hold for word blends. In spontaneous English polysyllabic blends, the source words were significantly more likely to be split before a strong than before a weak (unstressed) syllable, i.e. to be split at a stress unit boundary. In an experiment in which listeners were asked to identify the source words of blends, significantly more correct detections resulted when splits had been made before strong syllables. Word blending, like speech segmentation, appears to be constrained by language rhythm.
  • Cutler, A., Norris, D., & McQueen, J. M. (1994). Modelling lexical access from continuous speech input. Dokkyo International Review, 7, 193-215.

    Abstract

    The recognition of speech involves the segmentation of continuous utterances into their component words. Cross-linguistic evidence is briefly reviewed which suggests that although there are language-specific solutions to this segmentation problem, they have one thing in common: they are all based on language rhythm. In English, segmentation is stress-based: strong syllables are postulated to be the onsets of words. Segmentation, however, can also be achieved by a process of competition between activated lexical hypotheses, as in the Shortlist model. A series of experiments is summarised showing that segmentation of continuous speech depends on both lexical competition and a metrically-guided procedure. In the final section, the implementation of metrical segmentation in the Shortlist model is described: the activation of lexical hypotheses matching strong syllables in the input is boosted and that of hypotheses mismatching strong syllables in the input is penalised.
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (1994). Mora or phoneme? Further evidence for language-specific listening. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 824-844. doi:10.1006/jmla.1994.1039.

    Abstract

    Japanese listeners detect speech sound targets which correspond precisely to a mora (a phonological unit which is the unit of rhythm in Japanese) more easily than targets which do not. English listeners detect medial vowel targets more slowly than consonants. Six phoneme detection experiments investigated these effects in both subject populations, presented with native- and foreign-language input. Japanese listeners produced faster and more accurate responses to moraic than to nonmoraic targets both in Japanese and, where possible, in English; English listeners responded differently. The detection disadvantage for medial vowels appeared with English listeners both in English and in Japanese; again, Japanese listeners responded differently. Some processing operations which listeners apply to speech input are language-specific; these language-specific procedures, appropriate for listening to input in the native language, may be applied to foreign-language input irrespective of whether they remain appropriate.
  • Cutler, A. (1994). The perception of rhythm in language. Cognition, 50, 79-81. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(94)90021-3.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., Baayen, R. H., & Drexler, H. (1994). Words within words in a real-speech corpus. In R. Togneri (Ed.), Proceedings of the 5th Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology: Vol. 1 (pp. 362-367). Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association.

    Abstract

    In a 50,000-word corpus of spoken British English the occurrence of words embedded within other words is reported. Within-word embedding in this real speech sample is common, and analogous to the extent of embedding observed in the vocabulary. Imposition of a syllable boundary matching constraint reduces but by no means eliminates spurious embedding. Embedded words are most likely to overlap with the beginning of matrix words, and thus may pose serious problems for speech recognisers.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1994). Competition in spoken word recognition: Spotting words in other words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 621-638.

    Abstract

    Although word boundaries are rarely clearly marked, listeners can rapidly recognize the individual words of spoken sentences. Some theories explain this in terms of competition between multiply activated lexical hypotheses; others invoke sensitivity to prosodic structure. We describe a connectionist model, SHORTLIST, in which recognition by activation and competition is successful with a realistically sized lexicon. Three experiments are then reported in which listeners detected real words embedded in nonsense strings, some of which were themselves the onsets of longer words. Effects both of competition between words and of prosodic structure were observed, suggesting that activation and competition alone are not sufficient to explain word recognition in continuous speech. However, the results can be accounted for by a version of SHORTLIST that is sensitive to prosodic structure.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1994). Competition and segmentation in spoken word recognition. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing: Vol. 1 (pp. 401-404). Yokohama: PACIFICO.

    Abstract

    This paper describes recent experimental evidence which shows that models of spoken word recognition must incorporate both inhibition between competing lexical candidates and a sensitivity to metrical cues to lexical segmentation. A new version of the Shortlist [1][2] model incorporating the Metrical Segmentation Strategy [3] provides a detailed simulation of the data.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1983). A language-specific comprehension strategy [Letters to Nature]. Nature, 304, 159-160. doi:10.1038/304159a0.

    Abstract

    Infants acquire whatever language is spoken in the environment into which they are born. The mental capability of the newborn child is not biased in any way towards the acquisition of one human language rather than another. Because psychologists who attempt to model the process of language comprehension are interested in the structure of the human mind, rather than in the properties of individual languages, strategies which they incorporate in their models are presumed to be universal, not language-specific. In other words, strategies of comprehension are presumed to be characteristic of the human language processing system, rather than, say, the French, English, or Igbo language processing systems. We report here, however, on a comprehension strategy which appears to be used by native speakers of French but not by native speakers of English.
  • Cutler, A. (1983). Lexical complexity and sentence processing. In G. B. Flores d'Arcais, & R. J. Jarvella (Eds.), The process of language understanding (pp. 43-79). Chichester, Sussex: Wiley.
  • Cutler, A. (1983). Semantics, syntax and sentence accent. In M. Van den Broecke, & A. Cohen (Eds.), Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (pp. 85-91). Dordrecht: Foris.
  • Cutler, A., & Ladd, D. R. (Eds.). (1983). Prosody: Models and measurements. Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Cutler, A. (1983). Speakers’ conceptions of the functions of prosody. In A. Cutler, & D. R. Ladd (Eds.), Prosody: Models and measurements (pp. 79-91). Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Ladd, D. R., & Cutler, A. (1983). Models and measurements in the study of prosody. In A. Cutler, & D. R. Ladd (Eds.), Prosody: Models and measurements (pp. 1-10). Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Levelt, W. J. M., & Cutler, A. (1983). Prosodic marking in speech repair. Journal of semantics, 2, 205-217. doi:10.1093/semant/2.2.205.

    Abstract

    Spontaneous self-corrections in speech pose a communication problem; the speaker must make clear to the listener not only that the original Utterance was faulty, but where it was faulty and how the fault is to be corrected. Prosodic marking of corrections - making the prosody of the repair noticeably different from that of the original utterance - offers a resource which the speaker can exploit to provide the listener with such information. A corpus of more than 400 spontaneous speech repairs was analysed, and the prosodic characteristics compared with the syntactic and semantic characteristics of each repair. Prosodic marking showed no relationship at all with the syntactic characteristics of repairs. Instead, marking was associated with certain semantic factors: repairs were marked when the original utterance had been actually erroneous, rather than simply less appropriate than the repair; and repairs tended to be marked more often when the set of items encompassing the error and the repair was small rather than when it was large. These findings lend further weight to the characterization of accent as essentially semantic in function.
  • Cutler, A. (1970). An experimental method for semantic field study. Linguistic Communications, 2, 87-94.

    Abstract

    This paper emphasizes the need for empirical research and objective discovery procedures in semantics, and illustrates a method by which these goals may be obtained. The aim of the methodology described is to provide a description of the internal structure of a semantic field by eliciting the description--in an objective, standardized manner--from a representative group of native speakers. This would produce results that would be equally obtainable by any linguist using the same method under the same conditions with a similarly representative set of informants. The standardized method suggested by the author is the Semantic Differential developed by C. E. Osgood in the 1950's. Applying this method to semantic research, it is further hypothesized that, should different members of a semantic field be employed as concepts on a Semantic Differential task, a factor analysis of the results would reveal the dimensions operative within the body of data. The author demonstrates the use of the Semantic Differential and factor analysis in an actual experiment.

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