Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Boland, J. E., & Cutler, A. (1995). Interaction with autonomy: Defining multiple output models in psycholinguistic theory. Working Papers in Linguistic, 45, 1-10. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2066/15768.

    Abstract

    There are currently a number of psycholinguistic models in which processing at a particular level of representation is characterized by the generation of multiple outputs, with resolution involving the use of information from higher levels of processing. Surprisingly, models with this architecture have been characterized as autonomous within the domain of word recognition and as interactive within the domain of sentence processing. We suggest that the apparent internal confusion is not, as might be assumed, due to fundamental differences between lexical and syntactic processing. Rather, we believe that the labels in each domain were chosen in order to obtain maximal contrast between a new model and the model or models that were currently dominating the field.
  • Boland, J. E., & Cutler, A. (1995). Interaction with autonomy: Multiple Output models and the inadequacy of the Great Divide. Cognition, 58, 309-320. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(95)00684-2.

    Abstract

    There are currently a number of psycholinguistic models in which processing at a particular level of representation is characterized by the generation of multiple outputs, with resolution - but not generation - involving the use of information from higher levels of processing. Surprisingly, models with this architecture have been characterized as autonomous within the domain of word recognition but as interactive within the domain of sentence processing. We suggest that the apparent confusion is not, as might be assumed, due to fundamental differences between lexical and syntactic processing. Rather, we believe that the labels in each domain were chosen in order to obtain maximal contrast between a new model and the model or models that were currently dominating the field. The contradiction serves to highlight the inadequacy of a simple autonomy/interaction dichotomy for characterizing the architectures of current processing models.
  • Fear, B. D., Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1995). The strong/weak syllable distinction in English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97, 1893-1904. doi:10.1121/1.412063.

    Abstract

    Strong and weak syllables in English can be distinguished on the basis of vowel quality, of stress, or of both factors. Critical for deciding between these factors are syllables containing unstressed unreduced vowels, such as the first syllable of automata. In this study 12 speakers produced sentences containing matched sets of words with initial vowels ranging from stressed to reduced, at normal and at fast speech rates. Measurements of the duration, intensity, F0, and spectral characteristics of the word-initial vowels showed that unstressed unreduced vowels differed significantly from both stressed and reduced vowels. This result held true across speaker sex and dialect. The vowels produced by one speaker were then cross-spliced across the words within each set, and the resulting words' acceptability was rated by listeners. In general, cross-spliced words were only rated significantly less acceptable than unspliced words when reduced vowels interchanged with any other vowel. Correlations between rated acceptability and acoustic characteristics of the cross-spliced words demonstrated that listeners were attending to duration, intensity, and spectral characteristics. Together these results suggest that unstressed unreduced vowels in English pattern differently from both stressed and reduced vowels, so that no acoustic support for a binary categorical distinction exists; nevertheless, listeners make such a distinction, grouping unstressed unreduced vowels by preference with stressed vowels
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., Briscoe, T., & Norris, D. (1995). Models of continuous speech recognition and the contents of the vocabulary. Language and Cognitive Processes, 10, 309-331. doi:10.1080/01690969508407098.

    Abstract

    Several models of spoken word recognition postulate that recognition is achieved via a process of competition between lexical hypotheses. Competition not only provides a mechanism for isolated word recognition, it also assists in continuous speech recognition, since it offers a means of segmenting continuous input into individual words. We present statistics on the pattern of occurrence of words embedded in the polysyllabic words of the English vocabulary, showing that an overwhelming majority (84%) of polysyllables have shorter words embedded within them. Positional analyses show that these embeddings are most common at the onsets of the longer word. Although both phonological and syntactic constraints could rule out some embedded words, they do not remove the problem. Lexical competition provides a means of dealing with lexical embedding. It is also supported by a growing body of experimental evidence. We present results which indicate that competition operates both between word candidates that begin at the same point in the input and candidates that begin at different points (McQueen, Norris, & Cutler, 1994, Noms, McQueen, & Cutler, in press). We conclude that lexical competition is an essential component in models of continuous speech recognition.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1995). Competition and segmentation in spoken word recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21, 1209-1228.

    Abstract

    Spoken utterances contain few reliable cues to word boundaries, but listeners nonetheless experience little difficulty identifying words in continuous speech. The authors present data and simulations that suggest that this ability is best accounted for by a model of spoken-word recognition combining competition between alternative lexical candidates and sensitivity to prosodic structure. In a word-spotting experiment, stress pattern effects emerged most clearly when there were many competing lexical candidates for part of the input. Thus, competition between simultaneously active word candidates can modulate the size of prosodic effects, which suggests that spoken-word recognition must be sensitive both to prosodic structure and to the effects of competition. A version of the Shortlist model ( D. G. Norris, 1994b) incorporating the Metrical Segmentation Strategy ( A. Cutler & D. Norris, 1988) accurately simulates the results using a lexicon of more than 25,000 words.
  • Cutler, A., & Foss, D. (1977). On the role of sentence stress in sentence processing. Language and Speech, 20, 1-10.
  • Fay, D., & Cutler, A. (1977). Malapropisms and the structure of the mental lexicon. Linguistic Inquiry, 8, 505-520. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4177997.
  • Cutler, A., & Fay, D. (1975). You have a Dictionary in your Head, not a Thesaurus. Texas Linguistic Forum, 1, 27-40.

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