Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 31 of 31
  • El Aissati, A., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2012). Finding words in a language that allows words without vowels. Cognition, 124, 79-84. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2012.03.006.

    Abstract

    Across many languages from unrelated families, spoken-word recognition is subject to a constraint whereby potential word candidates must contain a vowel. This constraint minimizes competition from embedded words (e.g., in English, disfavoring win in twin because t cannot be a word). However, the constraint would be counter-productive in certain languages that allow stand-alone vowelless open-class words. One such language is Berber (where t is indeed a word). Berber listeners here detected words affixed to nonsense contexts with or without vowels. Length effects seen in other languages replicated in Berber, but in contrast to prior findings, word detection was not hindered by vowelless contexts. When words can be vowelless, otherwise universal constraints disfavoring vowelless words do not feature in spoken-word recognition.

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  • Cutler, A., & Davis, C. (2012). An orthographic effect in phoneme processing, and its limitations. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 18. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00018.

    Abstract

    To examine whether lexically stored knowledge about spelling influences phoneme evaluation, we conducted three experiments with a low-level phonetic judgement task: phoneme goodness rating. In each experiment, listeners heard phonetic tokens varying along a continuum centred on /s/, occurring finally in isolated word or nonword tokens. An effect of spelling appeared in Experiment 1: Native English speakers’ goodness ratings for the best /s/ tokens were significantly higher in words spelled with S (e.g., bless) than in words spelled with C (e.g., voice). No such difference appeared when nonnative speakers rated the same materials in Experiment 2, indicating that the difference could not be due to acoustic characteristics of the S- versus C-words. In Experiment 3, nonwords with lexical neighbours consistently spelled with S (e.g., pless) versus with C (e.g., floice) failed to elicit orthographic neighbourhood effects; no significant difference appeared in native English speakers’ ratings for the S-consistent versus the C-consistent sets. Obligatory influence of lexical knowledge on phonemic processing would have predicted such neighbourhood effects; the findings are thus better accommodated by models in which phonemic decisions draw strategically upon lexical information.
  • Cutler, A. (2012). Eentaalpsychologie is geen taalpsychologie: Part II. [Valedictory lecture Radboud University]. Nijmegen: Radboud University.

    Abstract

    Rede uitgesproken bij het afscheid als hoogleraar Vergelijkende taalpsychologie aan de Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen van de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen op donderdag 20 september 2012
  • Cutler, A. (2012). Native listening: Language experience and the recognition of spoken words. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Abstract

    Understanding speech in our native tongue seems natural and effortless; listening to speech in a nonnative language is a different experience. In this book, Anne Cutler argues that listening to speech is a process of native listening because so much of it is exquisitely tailored to the requirements of the native language. Her cross-linguistic study (drawing on experimental work in languages that range from English and Dutch to Chinese and Japanese) documents what is universal and what is language specific in the way we listen to spoken language. Cutler describes the formidable range of mental tasks we carry out, all at once, with astonishing speed and accuracy, when we listen. These include evaluating probabilities arising from the structure of the native vocabulary, tracking information to locate the boundaries between words, paying attention to the way the words are pronounced, and assessing not only the sounds of speech but prosodic information that spans sequences of sounds. She describes infant speech perception, the consequences of language-specific specialization for listening to other languages, the flexibility and adaptability of listening (to our native languages), and how language-specificity and universality fit together in our language processing system. Drawing on her four decades of work as a psycholinguist, Cutler documents the recent growth in our knowledge about how spoken-word recognition works and the role of language structure in this process. Her book is a significant contribution to a vibrant and rapidly developing field.
  • Cutler, A. (2012). Native listening: The flexibility dimension. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 169-187.

    Abstract

    The way we listen to spoken language is tailored to the specific benefit of native-language speech input. Listening to speech in non-native languages can be significantly hindered by this native bias. Is it possible to determine the degree to which a listener is listening in a native-like manner? Promising indications of how this question may be tackled are provided by new research findings concerning the great flexibility that characterises listening to the L1, in online adjustment of phonetic category boundaries for adaptation across talkers, and in modulation of lexical dynamics for adjustment across listening conditions. This flexibility pays off in many dimensions, including listening in noise, adaptation across dialects, and identification of voices. These findings further illuminate the robustness and flexibility of native listening, and potentially point to ways in which we might begin to assess degrees of ‘native-likeness’ in this skill.
  • Cutler, A., Otake, T., & Bruggeman, L. (2012). Phonologically determined asymmetries in vocabulary structure across languages. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132(2), EL155-EL160. doi:10.1121/1.4737596.

    Abstract

    Studies of spoken-word recognition have revealed that competition from embedded words differs in strength as a function of where in the carrier word the embedded word is found and have further shown embedding patterns to be skewed such that embeddings in initial position in carriers outnumber embeddings in final position. Lexico-statistical analyses show that this skew is highly attenuated in Japanese, a noninflectional language. Comparison of the extent of the asymmetry in the three Germanic languages English, Dutch, and German allows the source to be traced to a combination of suffixal morphology and vowel reduction in unstressed syllables.
  • Junge, C., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2012). Electrophysiological evidence of early word learning. Neuropsychologia, 50, 3702-3712. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.10.012.

    Abstract

    Around their first birthday infants begin to talk, yet they comprehend words long before. This study investigated the event-related potentials (ERP) responses of nine-month-olds on basic level picture-word pairings. After a familiarization phase of six picture-word pairings per semantic category, comprehension for novel exemplars was tested in a picture-word matching paradigm. ERPs time-locked to pictures elicited a modulation of the Negative Central (Nc) component, associated with visual attention and recognition. It was attenuated by category repetition as well as by the type-token ratio of picture context. ERPs time-locked to words in the training phase became more negative with repetition (N300-600), but there was no influence of picture type-token ratio, suggesting that infants have identified the concept of each picture before a word was presented. Results from the test phase provided clear support that infants integrated word meanings with (novel) picture context. Here, infants showed different ERP responses for words that did or did not align with the picture context: a phonological mismatch (N200) and a semantic mismatch (N400). Together, results were informative of visual categorization, word recognition and word-to-world-mappings, all three crucial processes for vocabulary construction.
  • Junge, C., Kooijman, V., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2012). Rapid recognition at 10 months as a predictor of language development. Developmental Science, 15, 463-473. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.1144.x.

    Abstract

    Infants’ ability to recognize words in continuous speech is vital for building a vocabulary.We here examined the amount and type of exposure needed for 10-month-olds to recognize words. Infants first heard a word, either embedded within an utterance or in isolation, then recognition was assessed by comparing event-related potentials to this word versus a word that they had not heard directly before. Although all 10-month-olds showed recognition responses to words first heard in isolation, not all infants showed such responses to words they had first heard within an utterance. Those that did succeed in the latter, harder, task, however, understood more words and utterances when re-tested at 12 months, and understood more words and produced more words at 24 months, compared with those who had shown no such recognition response at 10 months. The ability to rapidly recognize the words in continuous utterances is clearly linked to future language development.
  • McQueen, J. M., Tyler, M., & Cutler, A. (2012). Lexical retuning of children’s speech perception: Evidence for knowledge about words’ component sounds. Language Learning and Development, 8, 317-339. doi:10.1080/15475441.2011.641887.

    Abstract

    Children hear new words from many different talkers; to learn words most efficiently, they should be able to represent them independently of talker-specific pronunciation detail. However, do children know what the component sounds of words should be, and can they use that knowledge to deal with different talkers' phonetic realizations? Experiment 1 replicated prior studies on lexically guided retuning of speech perception in adults, with a picture-verification methodology suitable for children. One participant group heard an ambiguous fricative ([s/f]) replacing /f/ (e.g., in words like giraffe); another group heard [s/f] replacing /s/ (e.g., in platypus). The first group subsequently identified more tokens on a Simpie-[s/f]impie-Fimpie toy-name continuum as Fimpie. Experiments 2 and 3 found equivalent lexically guided retuning effects in 12- and 6-year-olds. Children aged 6 have all that is needed for adjusting to talker variation in speech: detailed and abstract phonological representations and the ability to apply them during spoken-word recognition.

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  • Tuinman, A., Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2012). Resolving ambiguity in familiar and unfamiliar casual speech. Journal of Memory and Language, 66, 530-544. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2012.02.001.

    Abstract

    In British English, the phrase Canada aided can sound like Canada raided if the speaker links the two vowels at the word boundary with an intrusive /r/. There are subtle phonetic differences between an onset /r/ and an intrusive /r/, however. With cross-modal priming and eye-tracking, we examine how native British English listeners and non-native (Dutch) listeners deal with the lexical ambiguity arising from this language-specific connected speech process. Together the results indicate that the presence of /r/ initially activates competing words for both listener groups; however, the native listeners rapidly exploit the phonetic cues and achieve correct lexical selection. In contrast, these advanced L2 listeners to English failed to recover from the /r/-induced competition, and failed to match native performance in either task. The /r/-intrusion process, which adds a phoneme to speech input, thus causes greater difficulty for L2 listeners than connectedspeech processes which alter or delete phonemes.
  • Warner, N. L., McQueen, J. M., Liu, P. Z., Hoffmann, M., & Cutler, A. (2012). Timing of perception for all English diphones [Abstract]. Program abstracts from the 164th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132(3), 1967.

    Abstract

    Information in speech does not unfold discretely over time; perceptual cues are gradient and overlapped. However, this varies greatly across segments and environments: listeners cannot identify the affricate in /ptS/ until the frication, but information about the vowel in /li/ begins early. Unlike most prior studies, which have concentrated on subsets of language sounds, this study tests perception of every English segment in every phonetic environment, sampling perceptual identification at six points in time (13,470 stimuli/listener; 20 listeners). Results show that information about consonants after another segment is most localized for affricates (almost entirely in the release), and most gradual for voiced stops. In comparison to stressed vowels, unstressed vowels have less information spreading to neighboring segments and are less well identified. Indeed, many vowels, especially lax ones, are poorly identified even by the end of the following segment. This may partly reflect listeners’ familiarity with English vowels’ dialectal variability. Diphthongs and diphthongal tense vowels show the most sudden improvement in identification, similar to affricates among the consonants, suggesting that information about segments defined by acoustic change is highly localized. This large dataset provides insights into speech perception and data for probabilistic modeling of spoken word recognition.
  • 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.
  • Butterfield, S., & Cutler, A. (1988). Segmentation errors by human listeners: Evidence for a prosodic segmentation strategy. In W. Ainsworth, & J. Holmes (Eds.), Proceedings of SPEECH ’88: Seventh Symposium of the Federation of Acoustic Societies of Europe: Vol. 3 (pp. 827-833). Edinburgh: Institute of Acoustics.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1988). Limits on bilingualism [Letters to Nature]. Nature, 340, 229-230. doi:10.1038/340229a0.

    Abstract

    SPEECH, in any language, is continuous; speakers provide few reliable cues to the boundaries of words, phrases, or other meaningful units. To understand speech, listeners must divide the continuous speech stream into portions that correspond to such units. This segmentation process is so basic to human language comprehension that psycholinguists long assumed that all speakers would do it in the same way. In previous research1,2, however, we reported that segmentation routines can be language-specific: speakers of French process spoken words syllable by syllable, but speakers of English do not. French has relatively clear syllable boundaries and syllable-based timing patterns, whereas English has relatively unclear syllable boundaries and stress-based timing; thus syllabic segmentation would work more efficiently in the comprehension of French than in the comprehension of English. Our present study suggests that at this level of language processing, there are limits to bilingualism: a bilingual speaker has one and only one basic language.
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1988). The role of strong syllables in segmentation for lexical access. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14, 113-121. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.14.1.113.

    Abstract

    A model of speech segmentation in a stress language is proposed, according to which the occurrence of a strong syllable triggers segmentation of the speech signal, whereas occurrence of a weak syllable does not trigger segmentation. We report experiments in which listeners detected words embedded in nonsense bisyllables more slowly when the bisyllable had two strong syllables than when it had a strong and a weak syllable; mint was detected more slowly in mintayve than in mintesh. According to our proposed model, this result is an effect of segmentation: When the second syllable is strong, it is segmented from the first syllable, and successful detection of the embedded word therefore requires assembly of speech material across a segmentation position. Speech recognition models involving phonemic or syllabic recoding, or based on strictly left-to-right processes, do not predict this result. It is argued that segmentation at strong syllables in continuous speech recognition serves the purpose of detecting the most efficient locations at which to initiate lexical access. (C) 1988 by the American Psychological Association
  • Cutler, A. (1988). The perfect speech error. In L. Hyman, & C. Li (Eds.), Language, speech and mind: Studies in honor of Victoria A. Fromkin (pp. 209-223). London: Croom Helm.
  • Hawkins, J. A., & Cutler, A. (1988). Psycholinguistic factors in morphological asymmetry. In J. A. Hawkins (Ed.), Explaining language universals (pp. 280-317). Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Henderson, L., Coltheart, M., Cutler, A., & Vincent, N. (1988). Preface. Linguistics, 26(4), 519-520. doi:10.1515/ling.1988.26.4.519.
  • Mehta, G., & Cutler, A. (1988). Detection of target phonemes in spontaneous and read speech. Language and Speech, 31, 135-156.

    Abstract

    Although spontaneous speech occurs more frequently in most listeners’ experience than read speech, laboratory studies of human speech recognition typically use carefully controlled materials read from a script. The phonological and prosodic characteristics of spontaneous and read speech differ considerably, however, which suggests that laboratory results may not generalize to the recognition of spontaneous and read speech materials, and their response time to detect word-initial target phonemes was measured. Response were, overall, equally fast in each speech mode. However analysis of effects previously reported in phoneme detection studies revealed significant differences between speech modes. In read speech but not in spontaneous speech, later targets were detected more rapidly than earlier targets, and targets preceded by long words were detected more rapidly than targets preceded by short words. In contrast, in spontaneous speech but not in read speech, targets were detected more rapidly in accented than unaccented words and in strong than in weak syllables. An explanation for this pattern is offered in terms of characteristic prosodic differences between spontaneous and read speech. The results support claim from previous work that listeners pay great attention to prosodic information in the process of recognizing speech.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1988). Speech recognition in French and English. MRC News, 39, 30-31.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1988). The relative accessibility of phonemes and syllables. Perception and Psychophysics, 43, 541-550. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=8530.

    Abstract

    Previous research comparing detection times for syllables and for phonemes has consistently found that syllables are responded to faster than phonemes. This finding poses theoretical problems for strictly hierarchical models of speech recognition, in which smaller units should be able to be identified faster than larger units. However, inspection of the characteristics of previous experiments’stimuli reveals that subjects have been able to respond to syllables on the basis of only a partial analysis of the stimulus. In the present experiment, five groups of subjects listened to identical stimulus material. Phoneme and syllable monitoring under standard conditions was compared with monitoring under conditions in which near matches of target and stimulus occurred on no-response trials. In the latter case, when subjects were forced to analyze each stimulus fully, phonemes were detected faster than syllables.
  • 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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