Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 31 of 31
  • 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., & Fear, B. D. (1991). Categoricality in acceptability judgements for strong versus weak vowels. In J. Llisterri (Ed.), Proceedings of the ESCA Workshop on Phonetics and Phonology of Speaking Styles (pp. 18.1-18.5). Barcelona, Catalonia: Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

    Abstract

    A distinction between strong and weak vowels can be drawn on the basis of vowel quality, of stress, or of both factors. An experiment was conducted in which sets of contextually matched word-intial vowels ranging from clearly strong to clearly weak were cross-spliced, and the naturalness of the resulting words was rated by listeners. The ratings showed that in general cross-spliced words were only significantly less acceptable than unspliced words when schwa was not involved; this supports a categorical distinction based on vowel quality.
  • Cutler, A. (1991). Linguistic rhythm and speech segmentation. In J. Sundberg, L. Nord, & R. Carlson (Eds.), Music, language, speech and brain (pp. 157-166). London: Macmillan.
  • Cutler, A. (1991). Proceed with caution. New Scientist, (1799), 53-54.
  • Cutler, A. (1991). Prosody in situations of communication: Salience and segmentation. In Proceedings of the Twelfth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences: Vol. 1 (pp. 264-270). Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence, Service des publications.

    Abstract

    Speakers and listeners have a shared goal: to communicate. The processes of speech perception and of speech production interact in many ways under the constraints of this communicative goal; such interaction is as characteristic of prosodic processing as of the processing of other aspects of linguistic structure. Two of the major uses of prosodic information in situations of communication are to encode salience and segmentation, and these themes unite the contributions to the symposium introduced by the present review.
  • Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1991). Word boundary cues in clear speech: A supplementary report. Speech Communication, 10, 335-353. doi:10.1016/0167-6393(91)90002-B.

    Abstract

    One of a listener's major tasks in understanding continuous speech is segmenting the speech signal into separate words. When listening conditions are difficult, speakers can help listeners by deliberately speaking more clearly. In four experiments, we examined how word boundaries are produced in deliberately clear speech. In an earlier report we showed that speakers do indeed mark word boundaries in clear speech, by pausing at the boundary and lengthening pre-boundary syllables; moreover, these effects are applied particularly to boundaries preceding weak syllables. In English, listeners use segmentation procedures which make word boundaries before strong syllables easier to perceive; thus marking word boundaries before weak syllables in clear speech will make clear precisely those boundaries which are otherwise hard to perceive. The present report presents supplementary data, namely prosodic analyses of the syllable following a critical word boundary. More lengthening and greater increases in intensity were applied in clear speech to weak syllables than to strong. Mean F0 was also increased to a greater extent on weak syllables than on strong. Pitch movement, however, increased to a greater extent on strong syllables than on weak. The effects were, however, very small in comparison to the durational effects we observed earlier for syllables preceding the boundary and for pauses at the boundary.
  • Van Ooijen, B., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1991). Detection times for vowels versus consonants. In Eurospeech 91: Vol. 3 (pp. 1451-1454). Genova: Istituto Internazionale delle Comunicazioni.

    Abstract

    This paper reports two experiments with vowels and consonants as phoneme detection targets in real words. In the first experiment, two relatively distinct vowels were compared with two confusible stop consonants. Response times to the vowels were longer than to the consonants. Response times correlated negatively with target phoneme length. In the second, two relatively distinct vowels were compared with their corresponding semivowels. This time, the vowels were detected faster than the semivowels. We conclude that response time differences between vowels and stop consonants in this task may reflect differences between phoneme categories in the variability of tokens, both in the acoustic realisation of targets and in the' representation of targets by subjects.
  • Butterfield, S., & Cutler, A. (1990). Intonational cues to word boundaries in clear speech? In Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics: Vol 12, part 10 (pp. 87-94). St. Albans, Herts.: Institute of Acoustics.
  • Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1990). Durational cues to word boundaries in clear speech. Speech Communication, 9, 485-495.

    Abstract

    One of a listener’s major tasks in understanding continuous speech in segmenting the speech signal into separate words. When listening conditions are difficult, speakers can help listeners by deliberately clear speech. We found that speakers do indeed attempt to makr word boundaries; moreover, they differentiate between word boundaries in a way which suggest they are sensitive to listener needs. Application of heuristic segmentation strategies makes word boundaries before strong syllables easiest for listeners to perceive; but under difficult listening conditions speakers pay more attention to marking word boundaries before weak syllables, i.e. they mark those boundaries which are otherwise particularly hard to perceive.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Robinson, K. (1990). Elizabeth and John: Sound patterns of men’s and women’s names. Journal of Linguistics, 26, 471-482. doi:10.1017/S0022226700014754.
  • Cutler, A. (1990). Exploiting prosodic probabilities in speech segmentation. In G. Altmann (Ed.), Cognitive models of speech processing: Psycholinguistic and computational perspectives (pp. 105-121). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Cutler, A. (1990). From performance to phonology: Comments on Beckman and Edwards's paper. In J. Kingston, & M. Beckman (Eds.), Papers in laboratory phonology I: Between the grammar and physics of speech (pp. 208-214). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cutler, A., & Scott, D. R. (1990). Speaker sex and perceived apportionment of talk. Applied Psycholinguistics, 11, 253-272. doi:10.1017/S0142716400008882.

    Abstract

    It is a widely held belief that women talk more than men; but experimental evidence has suggested that this belief is mistaken. The present study investigated whether listener bias contributes to this mistake. Dialogues were recorded in mixed-sex and single-sex versions, and male and female listeners judged the proportions of talk contributed to the dialogues by each participant. Female contributions to mixed-sex dialogues were rated as greater than male contributions by both male and female listeners. Female contributions were more likely to be overestimated when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably female than when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably male. It is suggested that the misestimates are due to a complex of factors that may involve both perceptual effects such as misjudgment of rates of speech and sociological effects such as attitudes to social roles and perception of power relations.
  • Cutler, A. (1990). Syllabic lengthening as a word boundary cue. In R. Seidl (Ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 324-328). Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association.

    Abstract

    Bisyllabic sequences which could be interpreted as one word or two were produced in sentence contexts by a trained speaker, and syllabic durations measured. Listeners judged whether the bisyllables, excised from context, were one word or two. The proportion of two-word choices correlated positively with measured duration, but only for bisyllables stressed on the second syllable. The results may suggest a limit for listener sensitivity to syllabic lengthening as a word boundary cue.
  • Cutler, A., Norris, D., & Van Ooijen, B. (1990). Vowels as phoneme detection targets. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (pp. 581-584).

    Abstract

    Phoneme detection is a psycholinguistic task in which listeners' response time to detect the presence of a pre-specified phoneme target is measured. Typically, detection tasks have used consonant targets. This paper reports two experiments in which subjects responded to vowels as phoneme detection targets. In the first experiment, targets occurred in real words, in the second in nonsense words. Response times were long by comparison with consonantal targets. Targets in initial syllables were responded to much more slowly than targets in second syllables. Strong vowels were responded to faster than reduced vowels in real words but not in nonwords. These results suggest that the process of phoneme detection produces different results for vowels and for consonants. We discuss possible explanations for this difference, in particular the possibility of language-specificity.
  • Mehler, J., & Cutler, A. (1990). Psycholinguistic implications of phonological diversity among languages. In M. Piattelli-Palmerini (Ed.), Cognitive science in Europe: Issues and trends (pp. 119-134). Rome: Golem.
  • Cutler, A. (1986). Forbear is a homophone: Lexical prosody does not constrain lexical access. Language and Speech, 29, 201-220.

    Abstract

    Because stress can occur in any position within an Eglish word, lexical prosody could serve as a minimal distinguishing feature between pairs of words. However, most pairs of English words with stress pattern opposition also differ vocalically: OBject an obJECT, CONtent and content have different vowels in their first syllables an well as different stress patters. To test whether prosodic information is made use in auditory word recognition independently of segmental phonetic information, it is necessary to examine pairs like FORbear – forBEAR of TRUSty – trusTEE, semantically unrelated words which echbit stress pattern opposition but no segmental difference. In a cross-modal priming task, such words produce the priming effects characteristic of homophones, indicating that lexical prosody is not used in the same was as segmental structure to constrain lexical access.
  • Cutler, A. (1986). Phonological structure in speech recognition. Phonology Yearbook, 3, 161-178. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4615397.

    Abstract

    Two bodies of recent research from experimental psycholinguistics are summarised, each of which is centred upon a concept from phonology: LEXICAL STRESS and the SYLLABLE. The evidence indicates that neither construct plays a role in prelexical representations during speech recog- nition. Both constructs, however, are well supported by other performance evidence. Testing phonological claims against performance evidence from psycholinguistics can be difficult, since the results of studies designed to test processing models are often of limited relevance to phonological theory.
  • Cutler, A., & Swinney, D. A. (1986). Prosody and the development of comprehension. Journal of Child Language, 14, 145-167.

    Abstract

    Four studies are reported in which young children’s response time to detect word targets was measured. Children under about six years of age did not show response time advantage for accented target words which adult listeners show. When semantic focus of the target word was manipulated independently of accent, children of about five years of age showed an adult-like response time advantage for focussed targets, but children younger than five did not. Id is argued that the processing advantage for accented words reflect the semantic role of accent as an expression of sentence focus. Processing advantages for accented words depend on the prior development of representations of sentence semantic structure, including the concept of focus. The previous literature on the development of prosodic competence shows an apparent anomaly in that young children’s productive skills appear to outstrip their receptive skills; however, this anomaly disappears if very young children’s prosody is assumed to be produced without an underlying representation of the relationship between prosody and semantics.
  • Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1986). The perceptual integrity of initial consonant clusters. In R. Lawrence (Ed.), Speech and Hearing: Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics (pp. 31-36). Edinburgh: Institute of Acoustics.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1986). The syllable’s differing role in the segmentation of French and English. Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 385-400. doi:10.1016/0749-596X(86)90033-1.

    Abstract

    Speech segmentation procedures may differ in speakers of different languages. Earlier work based on French speakers listening to French words suggested that the syllable functions as a segmentation unit in speech processing. However, while French has relatively regular and clearly bounded syllables, other languages, such as English, do not. No trace of syllabifying segmentation was found in English listeners listening to English words, French words, or nonsense words. French listeners, however, showed evidence of syllabification even when they were listening to English words. We conclude that alternative segmentation routines are available to the human language processor. In some cases speech segmentation may involve the operation of more than one procedure
  • Cutler, A. (1986). Why readers of this newsletter should run cross-linguistic experiments. European Psycholinguistics Association Newsletter, 13, 4-8.
  • 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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