Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 22 of 22
  • Asano, Y., Yuan, C., Grohe, A.-K., Weber, A., Antoniou, M., & Cutler, A. (2020). Uptalk interpretation as a function of listening experience. In N. Minematsu, M. Kondo, T. Arai, & R. Hayashi (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2020 (pp. 735-739). Tokyo: ISCA. doi:10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-150.

    Abstract

    The term “uptalk” describes utterance-final pitch rises that carry no sentence-structural information. Uptalk is usually dialectal or sociolectal, and Australian English (AusEng) is particularly known for this attribute. We ask here whether experience with an uptalk variety affects listeners’ ability to categorise rising pitch contours on the basis of the timing and height of their onset and offset. Listeners were two groups of English-speakers (AusEng, and American English), and three groups of listeners with L2 English: one group with Mandarin as L1 and experience of listening to AusEng, one with German as L1 and experience of listening to AusEng, and one with German as L1 but no AusEng experience. They heard nouns (e.g. flower, piano) in the framework “Got a NOUN”, each ending with a pitch rise artificially manipulated on three contrasts: low vs. high rise onset, low vs. high rise offset and early vs. late rise onset. Their task was to categorise the tokens as “question” or “statement”, and we analysed the effect of the pitch contrasts on their judgements. Only the native AusEng listeners were able to use the pitch contrasts systematically in making these categorisations.
  • Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2020). No L1 privilege in talker adaptation. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 23(3), 681-693. doi:10.1017/S1366728919000646.

    Abstract

    As a rule, listening is easier in first (L1) than second languages (L2); difficult L2 listening can challenge even highly proficient users. We here examine one particular listening function, adaptation to novel talkers, in such a high-proficiency population: Dutch emigrants to Australia, predominantly using English outside the family, but all also retaining L1 proficiency. Using lexically-guided perceptual learning (Norris, McQueen & Cutler, 2003), we investigated these listeners’ adaptation to an ambiguous speech sound, in parallel experiments in both their L1 and their L2. A control study established that perceptual learning outcomes were unaffected by the procedural measures required for this double comparison. The emigrants showed equivalent proficiency in tests in both languages, robust perceptual adaptation in their L2, English, but no adaptation in L1. We propose that adaptation to novel talkers is a language-specific skill requiring regular novel practice; a limited set of known (family) interlocutors cannot meet this requirement.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2020). Universals of listening: Equivalent prosodic entrainment in tone and non-tone languages. Cognition, 202: 104311. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104311.

    Abstract

    In English and Dutch, listeners entrain to prosodic contours to predict where focus will fall in an utterance. Here, we ask whether this strategy is universally available, even in languages with very different phonological systems (e.g., tone versus non-tone languages). In a phoneme detection experiment, we examined whether prosodic entrainment also occurs in Mandarin Chinese, a tone language, where the use of various suprasegmental cues to lexical identity may take precedence over their use in salience. Consistent with the results from Germanic languages, response times were facilitated when preceding intonation predicted high stress on the target-bearing word, and the lexical tone of the target word (i.e., rising versus falling) did not affect the Mandarin listeners' response. Further, the extent to which prosodic entrainment was used to detect the target phoneme was the same in both English and Mandarin listeners. Nevertheless, native Mandarin speakers did not adopt an entrainment strategy when the sentences were presented in English, consistent with the suggestion that L2 listening may be strained by additional functional load from prosodic processing. These findings have implications for how universal and language-specific mechanisms interact in the perception of focus structure in everyday discourse.

    Additional information

    supplementary data
  • Yu, J., Mailhammer, R., & Cutler, A. (2020). Vocabulary structure affects word recognition: Evidence from German listeners. In N. Minematsu, M. Kondo, T. Arai, & R. Hayashi (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2020 (pp. 474-478). Tokyo: ISCA. doi:10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-97.

    Abstract

    Lexical stress is realised similarly in English, German, and Dutch. On a suprasegmental level, stressed syllables tend to be longer and more acoustically salient than unstressed syllables; segmentally, vowels in unstressed syllables are often reduced. The frequency of unreduced unstressed syllables (where only the suprasegmental cues indicate lack of stress) however, differs across the languages. The present studies test whether listener behaviour is affected by these vocabulary differences, by investigating German listeners’ use of suprasegmental cues to lexical stress in German and English word recognition. In a forced-choice identification task, German listeners correctly assigned single-syllable fragments (e.g., Kon-) to one of two words differing in stress (KONto, konZEPT). Thus, German listeners can exploit suprasegmental information for identifying words. German listeners also performed above chance in a similar task in English (with, e.g., DIver, diVERT), i.e., their sensitivity to these cues also transferred to a nonnative language. An English listener group, in contrast, failed in the English fragment task. These findings mirror vocabulary patterns: German has more words with unreduced unstressed syllables than English does.
  • Mandal, S., Best, C. T., Shaw, J., & Cutler, A. (2020). Bilingual phonology in dichotic perception: A case study of Malayalam and English voicing. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 5(1): 73. doi:10.5334/gjgl.853.

    Abstract

    Listeners often experience cocktail-party situations, encountering multiple ongoing conversa- tions while tracking just one. Capturing the words spoken under such conditions requires selec- tive attention and processing, which involves using phonetic details to discern phonological structure. How do bilinguals accomplish this in L1-L2 competition? We addressed that question using a dichotic listening task with fluent Malayalam-English bilinguals, in which they were pre- sented with synchronized nonce words, one in each language in separate ears, with competing onsets of a labial stop (Malayalam) and a labial fricative (English), both voiced or both voiceless. They were required to attend to the Malayalam or the English item, in separate blocks, and report the initial consonant they heard. We found that perceptual intrusions from the unattended to the attended language were influenced by voicing, with more intrusions on voiced than voiceless tri- als. This result supports our proposal for the feature specification of consonants in Malayalam- English bilinguals, which makes use of privative features, underspecification and the “standard approach” to laryngeal features, as against “laryngeal realism”. Given this representational account, we observe that intrusions result from phonetic properties in the unattended signal being assimilated to the closest matching phonological category in the attended language, and are more likely for segments with a greater number of phonological feature specifications.
  • Ullas, S., Formisano, E., Eisner, F., & Cutler, A. (2020). Audiovisual and lexical cues do not additively enhance perceptual adaptation. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 27, 707-715. doi:10.3758/s13423-020-01728-5.

    Abstract

    When listeners experience difficulty in understanding a speaker, lexical and audiovisual (or lipreading) information can be a helpful source of guidance. These two types of information embedded in speech can also guide perceptual adjustment, also known as recalibration or perceptual retuning. With retuning or recalibration, listeners can use these contextual cues to temporarily or permanently reconfigure internal representations of phoneme categories to adjust to and understand novel interlocutors more easily. These two types of perceptual learning, previously investigated in large part separately, are highly similar in allowing listeners to use speech-external information to make phoneme boundary adjustments. This study explored whether the two sources may work in conjunction to induce adaptation, thus emulating real life, in which listeners are indeed likely to encounter both types of cue together. Listeners who received combined audiovisual and lexical cues showed perceptual learning effects similar to listeners who only received audiovisual cues, while listeners who received only lexical cues showed weaker effects compared with the two other groups. The combination of cues did not lead to additive retuning or recalibration effects, suggesting that lexical and audiovisual cues operate differently with regard to how listeners use them for reshaping perceptual categories. Reaction times did not significantly differ across the three conditions, so none of the forms of adjustment were either aided or hindered by processing time differences. Mechanisms underlying these forms of perceptual learning may diverge in numerous ways despite similarities in experimental applications.

    Additional information

    Data and materials
  • Ullas, S., Formisano, E., Eisner, F., & Cutler, A. (2020). Interleaved lexical and audiovisual information can retune phoneme boundaries. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 82, 2018-2026. doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01961-8.

    Abstract

    To adapt to situations in which speech perception is difficult, listeners can adjust boundaries between phoneme categories using perceptual learning. Such adjustments can draw on lexical information in surrounding speech, or on visual cues via speech-reading. In the present study, listeners proved they were able to flexibly adjust the boundary between two plosive/stop consonants, /p/-/t/, using both lexical and speech-reading information and given the same experimental design for both cue types. Videos of a speaker pronouncing pseudo-words and audio recordings of Dutch words were presented in alternating blocks of either stimulus type. Listeners were able to switch between cues to adjust phoneme boundaries, and resulting effects were comparable to results from listeners receiving only a single source of information. Overall, audiovisual cues (i.e., the videos) produced the stronger effects, commensurate with their applicability for adapting to noisy environments. Lexical cues were able to induce effects with fewer exposure stimuli and a changing phoneme bias, in a design unlike most prior studies of lexical retuning. While lexical retuning effects were relatively weaker compared to audiovisual recalibration, this discrepancy could reflect how lexical retuning may be more suitable for adapting to speakers than to environments. Nonetheless, the presence of the lexical retuning effects suggests that it may be invoked at a faster rate than previously seen. In general, this technique has further illuminated the robustness of adaptability in speech perception, and offers the potential to enable further comparisons across differing forms of perceptual learning.
  • Ullas, S., Hausfeld, L., Cutler, A., Eisner, F., & Formisano, E. (2020). Neural correlates of phonetic adaptation as induced by lexical and audiovisual context. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32(11), 2145-2158. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01608.

    Abstract

    When speech perception is difficult, one way listeners adjust is by reconfiguring phoneme category boundaries, drawing on contextual information. Both lexical knowledge and lipreading cues are used in this way, but it remains unknown whether these two differing forms of perceptual learning are similar at a neural level. This study compared phoneme boundary adjustments driven by lexical or audiovisual cues, using ultra-high-field 7-T fMRI. During imaging, participants heard exposure stimuli and test stimuli. Exposure stimuli for lexical retuning were audio recordings of words, and those for audiovisual recalibration were audio–video recordings of lip movements during utterances of pseudowords. Test stimuli were ambiguous phonetic strings presented without context, and listeners reported what phoneme they heard. Reports reflected phoneme biases in preceding exposure blocks (e.g., more reported /p/ after /p/-biased exposure). Analysis of corresponding brain responses indicated that both forms of cue use were associated with a network of activity across the temporal cortex, plus parietal, insula, and motor areas. Audiovisual recalibration also elicited significant occipital cortex activity despite the lack of visual stimuli. Activity levels in several ROIs also covaried with strength of audiovisual recalibration, with greater activity accompanying larger recalibration shifts. Similar activation patterns appeared for lexical retuning, but here, no significant ROIs were identified. Audiovisual and lexical forms of perceptual learning thus induce largely similar brain response patterns. However, audiovisual recalibration involves additional visual cortex contributions, suggesting that previously acquired visual information (on lip movements) is retrieved and deployed to disambiguate auditory perception.
  • 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.

    Additional information

    supporting information
  • 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.
  • Cutler, A., & Foss, D. (1977). On the role of sentence stress in sentence processing. Language and Speech, 20, 1-10.
  • Cutler, A. (1977). The context-dependence of "intonational meanings". In W. Beach, S. Fox, & S. Philosoph (Eds.), Papers from the Thirteenth Regional Meeting, Chicago Linguistic Society (pp. 104-115). Chicago, Ill.: CLS.
  • Cutler, A. (1977). The psychological reality of word formation and lexical stress rules. In E. Fischer-Jørgensen, J. Rischel, & N. Thorsen (Eds.), Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences: Vol. 2 (pp. 79-85). Copenhagen: Institute of Phonetics, University of Copenhagen.
  • 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. (1976). High-stress words are easier to perceive than low-stress words, even when they are equally stressed. Texas Linguistic Forum, 2, 53-57.
  • Cutler, A. (1976). Phoneme-monitoring reaction time as a function of preceding intonation contour. Perception and Psychophysics, 20, 55-60. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=18194.

    Abstract

    An acoustically invariant one-word segment occurred in two versions of one syntactic context. In one version, the preceding intonation contour indicated that a stress would fall at the point where this word occurred. In the other version, the preceding contour predicted reduced stress at that point. Reaction time to the initial phoneme of the word was faster in the former case, despite the fact that no acoustic correlates of stress were present. It is concluded that a part of the sentence comprehension process is the prediction of upcoming sentence accents.

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