Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18
  • Akker, E., & Cutler, A. (2003). Prosodic cues to semantic structure in native and nonnative listening. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 6(2), 81-96. doi:10.1017/S1366728903001056.

    Abstract

    Listeners efficiently exploit sentence prosody to direct attention to words bearing sentence accent. This effect has been explained as a search for focus, furthering rapid apprehension of semantic structure. A first experiment supported this explanation: English listeners detected phoneme targets in sentences more rapidly when the target-bearing words were in accented position or in focussed position, but the two effects interacted, consistent with the claim that the effects serve a common cause. In a second experiment a similar asymmetry was observed with Dutch listeners and Dutch sentences. In a third and a fourth experiment, proficient Dutch users of English heard English sentences; here, however, the two effects did not interact. The results suggest that less efficient mapping of prosody to semantics may be one way in which nonnative listening fails to equal native listening.
  • Johnson, E. K., Jusczyk, P. W., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2003). Lexical viability constraints on speech segmentation by infants. Cognitive Psychology, 46(1), 65-97. doi:10.1016/S0010-0285(02)00507-8.

    Abstract

    The Possible Word Constraint limits the number of lexical candidates considered in speech recognition by stipulating that input should be parsed into a string of lexically viable chunks. For instance, an isolated single consonant is not a feasible word candidate. Any segmentation containing such a chunk is disfavored. Five experiments using the head-turn preference procedure investigated whether, like adults, 12-month-olds observe this constraint in word recognition. In Experiments 1 and 2, infants were familiarized with target words (e.g., rush), then tested on lists of nonsense items containing these words in “possible” (e.g., “niprush” [nip + rush]) or “impossible” positions (e.g., “prush” [p + rush]). The infants listened significantly longer to targets in “possible” versus “impossible” contexts when targets occurred at the end of nonsense items (rush in “prush”), but not when they occurred at the beginning (tan in “tance”). In Experiments 3 and 4, 12-month-olds were similarly familiarized with target words, but test items were real words in sentential contexts (win in “wind” versus “window”). The infants listened significantly longer to words in the “possible” condition regardless of target location. Experiment 5 with targets at the beginning of isolated real words (e.g., win in “wind”) replicated Experiment 2 in showing no evidence of viability effects in beginning position. Taken together, the findings suggest that, in situations in which 12-month-olds are required to rely on their word segmentation abilities, they give evidence of observing lexical viability constraints in the way that they parse fluent speech.
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2003). Flow of information in the spoken word recognition system. Speech Communication, 41(1), 257-270. doi:10.1016/S0167-6393(02)00108-5.

    Abstract

    Spoken word recognition consists of two major component processes. First, at the prelexical stage, an abstract description of the utterance is generated from the information in the speech signal. Second, at the lexical stage, this description is used to activate all the words stored in the mental lexicon which match the input. These multiple candidate words then compete with each other. We review evidence which suggests that positive (match) and negative (mismatch) information of both a segmental and a suprasegmental nature is used to constrain this activation and competition process. We then ask whether, in addition to the necessary influence of the prelexical stage on the lexical stage, there is also feedback from the lexicon to the prelexical level. In two phonetic categorization experiments, Dutch listeners were asked to label both syllable-initial and syllable-final ambiguous fricatives (e.g., sounds ranging from [f] to [s]) in the word–nonword series maf–mas, and the nonword–word series jaf–jas. They tended to label the sounds in a lexically consistent manner (i.e., consistent with the word endpoints of the series). These lexical effects became smaller in listeners’ slower responses, even when the listeners were put under pressure to respond as fast as possible. Our results challenge models of spoken word recognition in which feedback modulates the prelexical analysis of the component sounds of a word whenever that word is heard
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2003). Perceptual learning in speech. Cognitive Psychology, 47(2), 204-238. doi:10.1016/S0010-0285(03)00006-9.

    Abstract

    This study demonstrates that listeners use lexical knowledge in perceptual learning of speech sounds. Dutch listeners first made lexical decisions on Dutch words and nonwords. The final fricative of 20 critical words had been replaced by an ambiguous sound, between [f] and [s]. One group of listeners heard ambiguous [f]-final words (e.g., [WI tlo?], from witlof, chicory) and unambiguous [s]-final words (e.g., naaldbos, pine forest). Another group heard the reverse (e.g., ambiguous [na:ldbo?], unambiguous witlof). Listeners who had heard [?] in [f]-final words were subsequently more likely to categorize ambiguous sounds on an [f]–[s] continuum as [f] than those who heard [?] in [s]-final words. Control conditions ruled out alternative explanations based on selective adaptation and contrast. Lexical information can thus be used to train categorization of speech. This use of lexical information differs from the on-line lexical feedback embodied in interactive models of speech perception. In contrast to on-line feedback, lexical feedback for learning is of benefit to spoken word recognition (e.g., in adapting to a newly encountered dialect).
  • Smits, R., Warner, N., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2003). Unfolding of phonetic information over time: A database of Dutch diphone perception. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 113(1), 563-574. doi:10.1121/1.1525287.

    Abstract

    We present the results of a large-scale study on speech perception, assessing the number and type of perceptual hypotheses which listeners entertain about possible phoneme sequences in their language. Dutch listeners were asked to identify gated fragments of all 1179 diphones of Dutch, providing a total of 488 520 phoneme categorizations. The results manifest orderly uptake of acoustic information in the signal. Differences across phonemes in the rate at which fully correct recognition was achieved arose as a result of whether or not potential confusions could occur with other phonemes of the language ~long with short vowels, affricates with their initial components, etc.!. These data can be used to improve models of how acoustic phonetic information is mapped onto the mental lexicon during speech comprehension.
  • Spinelli, E., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2003). Processing resyllabified words in French. Journal of Memory and Language, 48(2), 233-254. doi:10.1016/S0749-596X(02)00513-2.
  • Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2003). Perceptual similarity co-existing with lexical dissimilarity [Abstract]. Abstracts of the 146th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114(4 Pt. 2), 2422. doi:10.1121/1.1601094.

    Abstract

    The extreme case of perceptual similarity is indiscriminability, as when two second‐language phonemes map to a single native category. An example is the English had‐head vowel contrast for Dutch listeners; Dutch has just one such central vowel, transcribed [E]. We examine whether the failure to discriminate in phonetic categorization implies indiscriminability in other—e.g., lexical—processing. Eyetracking experiments show that Dutch‐native listeners instructed in English to ‘‘click on the panda’’ look (significantly more than native listeners) at a pictured pencil, suggesting that pan‐ activates their lexical representation of pencil. The reverse, however, is not the case: ‘‘click on the pencil’’ does not induce looks to a panda, suggesting that pen‐ does not activate panda in the lexicon. Thus prelexically undiscriminated second‐language distinctions can nevertheless be maintained in stored lexical representations. The problem of mapping a resulting unitary input to two distinct categories in lexical representations is solved by allowing input to activate only one second‐language category. For Dutch listeners to English, this is English [E], as a result of which no vowels in the signal ever map to words containing [ae]. We suggest that the choice of category is here motivated by a more abstract, phonemic, metric of similarity.
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (1997). Contrastive studies of spoken-language processing. Journal of Phonetic Society of Japan, 1, 4-13.
  • Cutler, A., & Chen, H.-C. (1997). Lexical tone in Cantonese spoken-word processing. Perception and Psychophysics, 59, 165-179. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=778.

    Abstract

    In three experiments, the processing of lexical tone in Cantonese was examined. Cantonese listeners more often accepted a nonword as a word when the only difference between the nonword and the word was in tone, especially when the F0 onset difference between correct and erroneous tone was small. Same–different judgments by these listeners were also slower and less accurate when the only difference between two syllables was in tone, and this was true whether the F0 onset difference between the two tones was large or small. Listeners with no knowledge of Cantonese produced essentially the same same-different judgment pattern as that produced by the native listeners, suggesting that the results display the effects of simple perceptual processing rather than of linguistic knowledge. It is argued that the processing of lexical tone distinctions may be slowed, relative to the processing of segmental distinctions, and that, in speeded-response tasks, tone is thus more likely to be misprocessed than is segmental structure.
  • Cutler, A., Dahan, D., & Van Donselaar, W. (1997). Prosody in the comprehension of spoken language: A literature review. Language and Speech, 40, 141-201.

    Abstract

    Research on the exploitation of prosodic information in the recognition of spoken language is reviewed. The research falls into three main areas: the use of prosody in the recognition of spoken words, in which most attention has been paid to the question of whether the prosodic structure of a word plays a role in initial contact with stored lexical representations; the use of prosody in the computation of syntactic structure, in which the resolution of global and local ambiguities has formed the central focus; and the role of prosody in the processing of discourse structure, in which there has been a preponderance of work on the contribution of accentuation and deaccentuation to integration of concepts with an existing discourse model. The review reveals that in each area progress has been made towards new conceptions of prosody's role in processing, and in particular this has involved abandonment of previously held deterministic views of the relationship between prosodic structure and other aspects of linguistic structure
  • Cutler, A. (1997). The comparative perspective on spoken-language processing. Speech Communication, 21, 3-15. doi:10.1016/S0167-6393(96)00075-1.

    Abstract

    Psycholinguists strive to construct a model of human language processing in general. But this does not imply that they should confine their research to universal aspects of linguistic structure, and avoid research on language-specific phenomena. First, even universal characteristics of language structure can only be accurately observed cross-linguistically. This point is illustrated here by research on the role of the syllable in spoken-word recognition, on the perceptual processing of vowels versus consonants, and on the contribution of phonetic assimilation phonemena to phoneme identification. In each case, it is only by looking at the pattern of effects across languages that it is possible to understand the general principle. Second, language-specific processing can certainly shed light on the universal model of language comprehension. This second point is illustrated by studies of the exploitation of vowel harmony in the lexical segmentation of Finnish, of the recognition of Dutch words with and without vowel epenthesis, and of the contribution of different kinds of lexical prosodic structure (tone, pitch accent, stress) to the initial activation of candidate words in lexical access. In each case, aspects of the universal processing model are revealed by analysis of these language-specific effects. In short, the study of spoken-language processing by human listeners requires cross-linguistic comparison.
  • Cutler, A. (1997). The syllable’s role in the segmentation of stress languages. Language and Cognitive Processes, 12, 839-845. doi:10.1080/016909697386718.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1997). The possible-word constraint in the segmentation of continuous speech. Cognitive Psychology, 34, 191-243. doi:10.1006/cogp.1997.0671.

    Abstract

    We propose that word recognition in continuous speech is subject to constraints on what may constitute a viable word of the language. This Possible-Word Constraint (PWC) reduces activation of candidate words if their recognition would imply word status for adjacent input which could not be a word - for instance, a single consonant. In two word-spotting experiments, listeners found it much harder to detectapple,for example, infapple(where [f] alone would be an impossible word), than invuffapple(wherevuffcould be a word of English). We demonstrate that the PWC can readily be implemented in a competition-based model of continuous speech recognition, as a constraint on the process of competition between candidate words; where a stretch of speech between a candidate word and a (known or likely) word boundary is not a possible word, activation of the candidate word is reduced. This implementation accurately simulates both the present results and data from a range of earlier studies of speech segmentation.
  • Suomi, K., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1997). Vowel harmony and speech segmentation in Finnish. Journal of Memory and Language, 36, 422-444. doi:10.1006/jmla.1996.2495.

    Abstract

    Finnish vowel harmony rules require that if the vowel in the first syllable of a word belongs to one of two vowel sets, then all subsequent vowels in that word must belong either to the same set or to a neutral set. A harmony mismatch between two syllables containing vowels from the opposing sets thus signals a likely word boundary. We report five experiments showing that Finnish listeners can exploit this information in an on-line speech segmentation task. Listeners found it easier to detect words likehymyat the end of the nonsense stringpuhymy(where there is a harmony mismatch between the first two syllables) than in the stringpyhymy(where there is no mismatch). There was no such effect, however, when the target words appeared at the beginning of the nonsense string (e.g.,hymypuvshymypy). Stronger harmony effects were found for targets containing front harmony vowels (e.g.,hymy) than for targets containing back harmony vowels (e.g.,paloinkypaloandkupalo). The same pattern of results appeared whether target position within the string was predictable or unpredictable. Harmony mismatch thus appears to provide a useful segmentation cue for the detection of word onsets in Finnish speech.
  • 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.
  • 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. (1972). A note on a reference by J.D. McCawley to adjectives denoting temperature. Linguistics, 87.
  • Cutler, A. (1972). Describing a semantic field. ITL Review of Applied Linguistics, 15, 67-73.

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