Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 26 of 26
  • Choi, J., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2018). Phonetic learning is not enhanced by sequential exposure to more than one language. Linguistic Research, 35(3), 567-581. doi:10.17250/khisli.35.3.201812.006.

    Abstract

    Several studies have documented that international adoptees, who in early years have experienced a change from a language used in their birth country to a new language in an adoptive country, benefit from the limited early exposure to the birth language when relearning that language’s sounds later in life. The adoptees’ relearning advantages have been argued to be conferred by lasting birth-language knowledge obtained from the early exposure. However, it is also plausible to assume that the advantages may arise from adoptees’ superior ability to learn language sounds in general, as a result of their unusual linguistic experience, i.e., exposure to multiple languages in sequence early in life. If this is the case, then the adoptees’ relearning benefits should generalize to previously unheard language sounds, rather than be limited to their birth-language sounds. In the present study, adult Korean adoptees in the Netherlands and matched Dutch-native controls were trained on identifying a Japanese length distinction to which they had never been exposed before. The adoptees and Dutch controls did not differ on any test carried out before, during, or after the training, indicating that observed adoptee advantages for birth-language relearning do not generalize to novel, previously unheard language sounds. The finding thus fails to support the suggestion that birth-language relearning advantages may arise from enhanced ability to learn language sounds in general conferred by early experience in multiple languages. Rather, our finding supports the original contention that such advantages involve memory traces obtained before adoption
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2018). Asymmetric efficiency of juncture perception in L1 and L2. In K. Klessa, J. Bachan, A. Wagner, M. Karpiński, & D. Śledziński (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2018 (pp. 289-296). Baixas, France: ISCA. doi:10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-59.

    Abstract

    In two experiments, Mandarin listeners resolved potential syntactic ambiguities in spoken utterances in (a) their native language (L1) and (b) English which they had learned as a second language (L2). A new disambiguation task was used, requiring speeded responses to select the correct meaning for structurally ambiguous sentences. Importantly, the ambiguities used in the study are identical in Mandarin and in English, and production data show that prosodic disambiguation of this type of ambiguity is also realised very similarly in the two languages. The perceptual results here showed however that listeners’ response patterns differed for L1 and L2, although there was a significant increase in similarity between the two response patterns with increasing exposure to the L2. Thus identical ambiguity and comparable disambiguation patterns in L1 and L2 do not lead to immediate application of the appropriate L1 listening strategy to L2; instead, it appears that such a strategy may have to be learned anew for the L2.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2018). Cue equivalence in prosodic entrainment for focus detection. In J. Epps, J. Wolfe, J. Smith, & C. Jones (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 153-156).

    Abstract

    Using a phoneme detection task, the present series of experiments examines whether listeners can entrain to different combinations of prosodic cues to predict where focus will fall in an utterance. The stimuli were recorded by four female native speakers of Australian English who happened to have used different prosodic cues to produce sentences with prosodic focus: a combination of duration cues, mean and maximum F0, F0 range, and longer pre-target interval before the focused word onset, only mean F0 cues, only pre-target interval, and only duration cues. Results revealed that listeners can entrain in almost every condition except for where duration was the only reliable cue. Our findings suggest that listeners are flexible in the cues they use for focus processing.
  • Cutler, A., Burchfield, L. A., & Antoniou, M. (2018). Factors affecting talker adaptation in a second language. In J. Epps, J. Wolfe, J. Smith, & C. Jones (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 33-36).

    Abstract

    Listeners adapt rapidly to previously unheard talkers by adjusting phoneme categories using lexical knowledge, in a process termed lexically-guided perceptual learning. Although this is firmly established for listening in the native language (L1), perceptual flexibility in second languages (L2) is as yet less well understood. We report two experiments examining L1 and L2 perceptual learning, the first in Mandarin-English late bilinguals, the second in Australian learners of Mandarin. Both studies showed stronger learning in L1; in L2, however, learning appeared for the English-L1 group but not for the Mandarin-L1 group. Phonological mapping differences from the L1 to the L2 are suggested as the reason for this result.
  • Cutler, A., & Farrell, J. (2018). Listening in first and second language. In J. I. Liontas (Ed.), The TESOL encyclopedia of language teaching. New York: Wiley. doi:10.1002/9781118784235.eelt0583.

    Abstract

    Listeners' recognition of spoken language involves complex decoding processes: The continuous speech stream must be segmented into its component words, and words must be recognized despite great variability in their pronunciation (due to talker differences, or to influence of phonetic context, or to speech register) and despite competition from many spuriously present forms supported by the speech signal. L1 listeners deal more readily with all levels of this complexity than L2 listeners. Fortunately, the decoding processes necessary for competent L2 listening can be taught in the classroom. Evidence-based methodologies targeted at the development of efficient speech decoding include teaching of minimal pairs, of phonotactic constraints, and of reduction processes, as well as the use of dictation and L2 video captions.
  • Johnson, E. K., Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2018). Abstraction and the (misnamed) language familiarity effect. Cognitive Science, 42, 633-645. doi:10.1111/cogs.12520.

    Abstract

    Talkers are recognized more accurately if they are speaking the listeners’ native language rather than an unfamiliar language. This “language familiarity effect” has been shown not to depend upon comprehension and must instead involve language sound patterns. We further examine the level of sound-pattern processing involved, by comparing talker recognition in foreign languages versus two varieties of English, by (a) English speakers of one variety, (b) English speakers of the other variety, and (c) non-native listeners (more familiar with one of the varieties). All listener groups performed better with native than foreign speech, but no effect of language variety appeared: Native listeners discriminated talkers equally well in each, with the native variety never outdoing the other variety, and non-native listeners discriminated talkers equally poorly in each, irrespective of the variety's familiarity. The results suggest that this talker recognition effect rests not on simple familiarity, but on an abstract level of phonological processing
  • Kidd, E., Junge, C., Spokes, T., Morrison, L., & Cutler, A. (2018). Individual differences in infant speech segmentation: Achieving the lexical shift. Infancy, 23(6), 770-794. doi:10.1111/infa.12256.

    Abstract

    We report a large‐scale electrophysiological study of infant speech segmentation, in which over 100 English‐acquiring 9‐month‐olds were exposed to unfamiliar bisyllabic words embedded in sentences (e.g., He saw a wild eagle up there), after which their brain responses to either the just‐familiarized word (eagle) or a control word (coral) were recorded. When initial exposure occurs in continuous speech, as here, past studies have reported that even somewhat older infants do not reliably recognize target words, but that successful segmentation varies across children. Here, we both confirm and further uncover the nature of this variation. The segmentation response systematically varied across individuals and was related to their vocabulary development. About one‐third of the group showed a left‐frontally located relative negativity in response to familiar versus control targets, which has previously been described as a mature response. Another third showed a similarly located positive‐going reaction (a previously described immature response), and the remaining third formed an intermediate grouping that was primarily characterized by an initial response delay. A fine‐grained group‐level analysis suggested that a developmental shift to a lexical mode of processing occurs toward the end of the first year, with variation across individual infants in the exact timing of this shift.

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  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2018). Commentary on “Interaction in spoken word recognition models". Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 1568. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01568.
  • Burchfield, L. A., Luk, S.-.-H.-K., Antoniou, M., & Cutler, A. (2017). Lexically guided perceptual learning in Mandarin Chinese. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 576-580). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-618.

    Abstract

    Lexically guided perceptual learni ng refers to the use of lexical knowledge to retune sp eech categories and thereby adapt to a novel talker’s pronunciation. This adaptation has been extensively documented, but primarily for segmental-based learning in English and Dutch. In languages with lexical tone, such as Mandarin Chinese, tonal categories can also be retuned in this way, but segmental category retuning had not been studied. We report two experiment s in which Mandarin Chinese listeners were exposed to an ambiguous mixture of [f] and [s] in lexical contexts favoring an interpretation as either [f] or [s]. Listeners were subsequently more likely to identify sounds along a continuum between [f] and [s], and to interpret minimal word pairs, in a manner consistent with this exposure. Thus lexically guided perceptual learning of segmental categories had indeed taken place, consistent with suggestions that such learning may be a universally available adaptation process
  • Choi, J., Cutler, A., & Broersma, M. (2017). Early development of abstract language knowledge: Evidence from perception-production transfer of birth-language memory. Royal Society Open Science, 4: 160660. doi:10.1098/rsos.160660.

    Abstract

    Children adopted early in life into another linguistic community typically forget their birth language but retain, unaware, relevant linguistic knowledge that may facilitate (re)learning of birth-language patterns. Understanding the nature of this knowledge can shed light on how language is acquired. Here, international adoptees from Korea with Dutch as their current language, and matched Dutch-native controls, provided speech production data on a Korean consonantal distinction unlike any Dutch distinctions, at the outset and end of an intensive perceptual training. The productions, elicited in a repetition task, were identified and rated by Korean listeners. Adoptees' production scores improved significantly more across the training period than control participants' scores, and, for adoptees only, relative production success correlated significantly with the rate of learning in perception (which had, as predicted, also surpassed that of the controls). Of the adoptee group, half had been adopted at 17 months or older (when talking would have begun), while half had been prelinguistic (under six months). The former group, with production experience, showed no advantage over the group without. Thus the adoptees' retained knowledge of Korean transferred from perception to production and appears to be abstract in nature rather than dependent on the amount of experience.
  • Choi, J., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2017). Early phonology revealed by international adoptees' birth language retention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(28), 7307-7312. doi:10.1073/pnas.1706405114.

    Abstract

    Until at least 6 mo of age, infants show good discrimination for familiar phonetic contrasts (i.e., those heard in the environmental language) and contrasts that are unfamiliar. Adult-like discrimination (significantly worse for nonnative than for native contrasts) appears only later, by 9–10 mo. This has been interpreted as indicating that infants have no knowledge of phonology until vocabulary development begins, after 6 mo of age. Recently, however, word recognition has been observed before age 6 mo, apparently decoupling the vocabulary and phonology acquisition processes. Here we show that phonological acquisition is also in progress before 6 mo of age. The evidence comes from retention of birth-language knowledge in international adoptees. In the largest ever such study, we recruited 29 adult Dutch speakers who had been adopted from Korea when young and had no conscious knowledge of Korean language at all. Half were adopted at age 3–5 mo (before native-specific discrimination develops) and half at 17 mo or older (after word learning has begun). In a short intensive training program, we observe that adoptees (compared with 29 matched controls) more rapidly learn tripartite Korean consonant distinctions without counterparts in their later-acquired Dutch, suggesting that the adoptees retained phonological knowledge about the Korean distinction. The advantage is equivalent for the younger-adopted and the older-adopted groups, and both groups not only acquire the tripartite distinction for the trained consonants but also generalize it to untrained consonants. Although infants younger than 6 mo can still discriminate unfamiliar phonetic distinctions, this finding indicates that native-language phonological knowledge is nonetheless being acquired at that age.
  • Cutler, A. (2017). Converging evidence for abstract phonological knowledge in speech processing. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2017) (pp. 1447-1448). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    The perceptual processing of speech is a constant interplay of multiple competing albeit convergent processes: acoustic input vs. higher-level representations, universal mechanisms vs. language-specific, veridical traces of speech experience vs. construction and activation of abstract representations. The present summary concerns the third of these issues. The ability to generalise across experience and to deal with resulting abstractions is the hallmark of human cognition, visible even in early infancy. In speech processing, abstract representations play a necessary role in both production and perception. New sorts of evidence are now informing our understanding of the breadth of this role.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2017). Intonation facilitates prediction of focus even in the presence of lexical tones. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 1218-1222). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-264.

    Abstract

    In English and Dutch, listeners entrain to prosodic contours to predict where focus will fall in an utterance. However, is this strategy universally available, even in languages with different phonological systems? In a phoneme detection experiment, we examined whether prosodic entrainment is also found in Mandarin Chinese, a tone language, where in principle the use of pitch for lexical identity may take precedence over the use of pitch cues to salience. Consistent with the results from Germanic languages, response times were facilitated when preceding intonation predicted accent on the target-bearing word. Acoustic analyses revealed greater F0 range in the preceding intonation of the predicted-accent sentences. These findings have implications for how universal and language-specific mechanisms interact in the processing of salience.
  • Goudbeek, M., Smits, R., Cutler, A., & Swingley, D. (2017). Auditory and phonetic category formation. In H. Cohen, & C. Lefebvre (Eds.), Handbook of categorization in cognitive science (2nd revised ed.) (pp. 687-708). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Kember, H., Grohe, A.-.-K., Zahner, K., Braun, B., Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2017). Similar prosodic structure perceived differently in German and English. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 1388-1392).

    Abstract

    English and German have similar prosody, but their speakers realize some pitch falls (not rises) in subtly different ways. We here test for asymmetry in perception. An ABX discrimination task requiring F0 slope or duration judgements on isolated vowels revealed no cross-language difference in duration or F0 fall discrimination, but discrimination of rises (realized similarly in each language) was less accurate for English than for German listeners. This unexpected finding may reflect greater sensitivity to rising patterns by German listeners, or reduced sensitivity by English listeners as a result of extensive exposure to phrase-final rises (“uptalk”) in their language
  • Warner, N., & Cutler, A. (2017). Stress effects in vowel perception as a function of language-specific vocabulary patterns. Phonetica, 74, 81-106. doi:10.1159/000447428.

    Abstract

    Background/Aims: Evidence from spoken word recognition suggests that for English listeners, distinguishing full versus reduced vowels is important, but discerning stress differences involving the same full vowel (as in mu- from music or museum) is not. In Dutch, in contrast, the latter distinction is important. This difference arises from the relative frequency of unstressed full vowels in the two vocabularies. The goal of this paper is to determine how this difference in the lexicon influences the perception of stressed versus unstressed vowels. Methods: All possible sequences of two segments (diphones) in Dutch and in English were presented to native listeners in gated fragments. We recorded identification performance over time throughout the speech signal. The data were here analysed specifically for patterns in perception of stressed versus unstressed vowels. Results: The data reveal significantly larger stress effects (whereby unstressed vowels are harder to identify than stressed vowels) in English than in Dutch. Both language-specific and shared patterns appear regarding which vowels show stress effects. Conclusion: We explain the larger stress effect in English as reflecting the processing demands caused by the difference in use of unstressed vowels in the lexicon. The larger stress effect in English is due to relative inexperience with processing unstressed full vowels
  • Connine, C. M., Clifton, Jr., C., & Cutler, A. (1987). Effects of lexical stress on phonetic categorization. Phonetica, 44, 133-146.
  • Cutler, A., Norris, D., & Williams, J. (1987). A note on the role of phonological expectations in speech segmentation. Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 480-487. doi:10.1016/0749-596X(87)90103-3.

    Abstract

    Word-initial CVC syllables are detected faster in words beginning consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel (CVCV-) than in words beginning consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant (CVCC-). This effect was reported independently by M. Taft and G. Hambly (1985, Journal of Memory and Language, 24, 320–335) and by A. Cutler, J. Mehler, D. Norris, and J. Segui (1986, Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 385–400). Taft and Hambly explained the effect in terms of lexical factors. This explanation cannot account for Cutler et al.'s results, in which the effect also appeared with nonwords and foreign words. Cutler et al. suggested that CVCV-sequences might simply be easier to perceive than CVCC-sequences. The present study confirms this suggestion, and explains it as a reflection of listener expectations constructed on the basis of distributional characteristics of the language.
  • Cutler, A. (1987). Components of prosodic effects in speech recognition. In Proceedings of the Eleventh International Congress of Phonetic Sciences: Vol. 1 (pp. 84-87). Tallinn: Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR, Institute of Language and Literature.

    Abstract

    Previous research has shown that listeners use the prosodic structure of utterances in a predictive fashion in sentence comprehension, to direct attention to accented words. Acoustically identical words spliced into sentence contexts arc responded to differently if the prosodic structure of the context is \ aricd: when the preceding prosody indicates that the word will he accented, responses are faster than when the preceding prosodv is inconsistent with accent occurring on that word. In the present series of experiments speech hybridisation techniques were first used to interchange the timing patterns within pairs of prosodic variants of utterances, independently of the pitch and intensity contours. The time-adjusted utterances could then serve as a basis lor the orthogonal manipulation of the three prosodic dimensions of pilch, intensity and rhythm. The overall pattern of results showed that when listeners use prosody to predict accent location, they do not simply rely on a single prosodic dimension, hut exploit the interaction between pitch, intensity and rhythm.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1987). Phoneme identification and the lexicon. Cognitive Psychology, 19, 141-177. doi:10.1016/0010-0285(87)90010-7.
  • Cutler, A. (1987). Speaking for listening. In A. Allport, D. MacKay, W. Prinz, & E. Scheerer (Eds.), Language perception and production: Relationships between listening, speaking, reading and writing (pp. 23-40). London: Academic Press.

    Abstract

    Speech production is constrained at all levels by the demands of speech perception. The speaker's primary aim is successful communication, and to this end semantic, syntactic and lexical choices are directed by the needs of the listener. Even at the articulatory level, some aspects of production appear to be perceptually constrained, for example the blocking of phonological distortions under certain conditions. An apparent exception to this pattern is word boundary information, which ought to be extremely useful to listeners, but which is not reliably coded in speech. It is argued that the solution to this apparent problem lies in rethinking the concept of the boundary of the lexical access unit. Speech rhythm provides clear information about the location of stressed syllables, and listeners do make use of this information. If stressed syllables can serve as the determinants of word lexical access codes, then once again speakers are providing precisely the necessary form of speech information to facilitate perception.
  • Cutler, A., & Carter, D. (1987). The prosodic structure of initial syllables in English. In J. Laver, & M. Jack (Eds.), Proceedings of the European Conference on Speech Technology: Vol. 1 (pp. 207-210). Edinburgh: IEE.
  • Cutler, A., Butterfield, S., & Williams, J. (1987). The perceptual integrity of syllabic onsets. Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 406-418. doi:10.1016/0749-596X(87)90099-4.
  • Cutler, A., & Carter, D. (1987). The predominance of strong initial syllables in the English vocabulary. Computer Speech and Language, 2, 133-142. doi:10.1016/0885-2308(87)90004-0.

    Abstract

    Studies of human speech processing have provided evidence for a segmentation strategy in the perception of continuous speech, whereby a word boundary is postulated, and a lexical access procedure initiated, at each metrically strong syllable. The likely success of this strategy was here estimated against the characteristics of the English vocabulary. Two computerized dictionaries were found to list approximately three times as many words beginning with strong syllables (i.e. syllables containing a full vowel) as beginning with weak syllables (i.e. syllables containing a reduced vowel). Consideration of frequency of lexical word occurrence reveals that words beginning with strong syllables occur on average more often than words beginning with weak syllables. Together, these findings motivate an estimate for everyday speech recognition that approximately 85% of lexical words (i.e. excluding function words) will begin with strong syllables. This estimate was tested against a corpus of 190 000 words of spontaneous British English conversion. In this corpus, 90% of lexical words were found to begin with strong syllables. This suggests that a strategy of postulating word boundaries at the onset of strong syllables would have a high success rate in that few actual lexical word onsets would be missed.
  • Cutler, A. (1987). The task of the speaker and the task of the hearer [Commentary/Sperber & Wilson: Relevance]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 10, 715-716.
  • 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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