Anne Cutler †

Publications

Displaying 1 - 42 of 42
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2016). Bottoms up! How top-down pitfalls ensnare speech perception researchers too. Commentary on C. Firestone & B. Scholl: Cognition does not affect perception: Evaluating the evidence for 'top-down' effects. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, e236. doi:10.1017/S0140525X15002745.

    Abstract

    Not only can the pitfalls that Firestone & Scholl (F&S) identify be generalised across multiple studies within the field of visual perception, but also they have general application outside the field wherever perceptual and cognitive processing are compared. We call attention to the widespread susceptibility of research on the perception of speech to versions of the same pitfalls.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2016). Prediction, Bayesian inference and feedback in speech recognition. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31(1), 4-18. doi:10.1080/23273798.2015.1081703.

    Abstract

    Speech perception involves prediction, but how is that prediction implemented? In cognitive models prediction has often been taken to imply that there is feedback of activation from lexical to pre-lexical processes as implemented in interactive-activation models (IAMs). We show that simple activation feedback does not actually improve speech recognition. However, other forms of feedback can be beneficial. In particular, feedback can enable the listener to adapt to changing input, and can potentially help the listener to recognise unusual input, or recognise speech in the presence of competing sounds. The common feature of these helpful forms of feedback is that they are all ways of optimising the performance of speech recognition using Bayesian inference. That is, listeners make predictions about speech because speech recognition is optimal in the sense captured in Bayesian models.
  • Cutler, A. (2015). Lexical stress in English pronunciation. In M. Reed, & J. M. Levis (Eds.), The Handbook of English Pronunciation (pp. 106-124). Chichester: Wiley.
  • Cutler, A. (2015). Representation of second language phonology. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36(1), 115-128. doi:10.1017/S0142716414000459.

    Abstract

    Orthographies encode phonological information only at the level of words (chiefly, the information encoded concerns phonetic segments; in some cases, tonal information or default stress may be encoded). Of primary interest to second language (L2) learners is whether orthography can assist in clarifying L2 phonological distinctions that are particularly difficult to perceive (e.g., where one native-language phonemic category captures two L2 categories). A review of spoken-word recognition evidence suggests that orthographic information can install knowledge of such a distinction in lexical representations but that this does not affect learners’ ability to perceive the phonemic distinction in speech. Words containing the difficult phonemes become even harder for L2 listeners to recognize, because perception maps less accurately to lexical content.
  • Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2015). BALDEY: A database of auditory lexical decisions. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68, 1469-1488. doi:10.1080/17470218.2014.984730.

    Abstract

    In an auditory lexical decision experiment, 5,541 spoken content words and pseudo-words were presented to 20 native speakers of Dutch. The words vary in phonological makeup and in number of syllables and stress pattern, and are further representative of the native Dutch vocabulary in that most are morphologically complex, comprising two stems or one stem plus derivational and inflectional suffixes, with inflections representing both regular and irregular paradigms; the pseudo-words were matched in these respects to the real words. The BALDEY data file includes response times and accuracy rates, with for each item morphological information plus phonological and acoustic information derived from automatic phonemic segmentation of the stimuli. Two initial analyses illustrate how this data set can be used. First, we discuss several measures of the point at which a word has no further neighbors, and compare the degree to which each measure predicts our lexical decision response outcomes. Second, we investigate how well four different measures of frequency of occurrence (from written corpora, spoken corpora, subtitles and frequency ratings by 70 participants) predict the same outcomes. These analyses motivate general conclusions about the auditory lexical decision task. The (publicly available) BALDEY database lends itself to many further analyses.
  • Cooper, N., Cutler, A., & Wales, R. (2002). Constraints of lexical stress on lexical access in English: Evidence from native and non-native listeners. Language and Speech, 45(3), 207-228.

    Abstract

    Four cross-modal priming experiments and two forced-choice identification experiments investigated the use of suprasegmental cues to stress in the recognition of spoken English words, by native (English-speaking) and non- native (Dutch) listeners. Previous results had indicated that suprasegmental information was exploited in lexical access by Dutch but not by English listeners. For both listener groups, recognition of visually presented target words was faster, in comparison to a control condition, after stress-matching spoken primes, either monosyllabic (mus- from MUsic /muSEum) or bisyl labic (admi- from ADmiral/admiRAtion). For native listeners, the effect of stress-mismatching bisyllabic primes was not different from that of control primes, but mismatching monosyllabic primes produced partial facilitation. For non-native listeners, both bisyllabic and monosyllabic stress-mismatching primes produced partial facilitation. Native English listeners thus can exploit suprasegmental information in spoken-word recognition, but information from two syllables is used more effectively than information from one syllable. Dutch listeners are less proficient at using suprasegmental information in English than in their native language, but, as in their native language, use mono- and bisyllabic information to an equal extent. In forced-choice identification, Dutch listeners outperformed native listeners at correctly assigning a monosyllabic fragment (e.g., mus-) to one of two words differing in stress.
  • Cutler, A. (2002). Lexical access. In L. Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of cognitive science (pp. 858-864). London: Nature Publishing Group.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Somejuan, A. (2002). Le rôle de la syllable. In E. Dupoux (Ed.), Les langages du cerveau: Textes en l’honneur de Jacques Mehler (pp. 185-197). Paris: Odile Jacob.
  • Cutler, A. (2002). Native listeners. European Review, 10(1), 27-41. doi:10.1017/S1062798702000030.

    Abstract

    Becoming a native listener is the necessary precursor to becoming a native speaker. Babies in the first year of life undertake a remarkable amount of work; by the time they begin to speak, they have perceptually mastered the phonological repertoire and phoneme co-occurrence probabilities of the native language, and they can locate familiar word-forms in novel continuous-speech contexts. The skills acquired at this early stage form a necessary part of adult listening. However, the same native listening skills also underlie problems in listening to a late-acquired non-native language, accounting for why in such a case listening (an innate ability) is sometimes paradoxically more difficult than, for instance, reading (a learned ability).
  • Cutler, A. (2002). Phonological processing: Comments on Pierrehumbert, Moates et al., Kubozono, Peperkamp & Dupoux, and Bradlow. In C. Gussenhoven, & N. Warner (Eds.), Papers in Laboratory Phonology VII (pp. 275-296). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (2002). Rhythmic categories in spoken-word recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 46(2), 296-322. doi:10.1006/jmla.2001.2814.

    Abstract

    Rhythmic categories such as morae in Japanese or stress units in English play a role in the perception of spoken
    language. We examined this role in Japanese, since recent evidence suggests that morae may intervene as
    structural units in word recognition. First, we found that traditional puns more often substituted part of a mora
    than a whole mora. Second, when listeners reconstructed distorted words, e.g. panorama from panozema, responses
    were faster and more accurate when only a phoneme was distorted (panozama, panorema) than when a
    whole CV mora was distorted (panozema). Third, lexical decisions on the same nonwords were better predicted
    by duration and number of phonemes from nonword uniqueness point to word end than by number of morae. Our
    results indicate no role for morae in early spoken-word processing; we propose that rhythmic categories constrain
    not initial lexical activation but subsequent processes of speech segmentation and selection among word candidates.
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2002). The role of strong syllables in segmentation for lexical access. In G. T. Altmann (Ed.), Psycholinguistics: Critical concepts in psychology (pp. 157-177). London: Routledge.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (2002). The syllable's differing role in the segmentation of French and English. In G. T. Altmann (Ed.), Psycholinguistics: Critical concepts in psychology (pp. 115-135). London: Routledge.

    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., Demuth, K., & McQueen, J. M. (2002). Universality versus language-specificity in listening to running speech. Psychological Science, 13(3), 258-262. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00447.

    Abstract

    Recognizing spoken language involves automatic activation of multiple candidate words. The process of selection between candidates is made more efficient by inhibition of embedded words (like egg in beg) that leave a portion of the input stranded (here, b). Results from European languages suggest that this inhibition occurs when consonants are stranded but not when syllables are stranded. The reason why leftover syllables do not lead to inhibition could be that in principle they might themselves be words; in European languages, a syllable can be a word. In Sesotho (a Bantu language), however, a single syllable cannot be a word. We report that in Sesotho, word recognition is inhibited by stranded consonants, but stranded monosyllables produce no more difficulty than stranded bisyllables (which could be Sesotho words). This finding suggests that the viability constraint which inhibits spurious embedded word candidates is not sensitive to language-specific word structure, but is universal.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2002). Bias effects in facilitatory phonological priming. Memory & Cognition, 30(3), 399-411.

    Abstract

    In four experiments, we examined the facilitation that occurs when spoken-word targets rhyme with preceding spoken primes. In Experiment 1, listeners’ lexical decisions were faster to words following rhyming words (e.g., ramp–LAMP) than to words following unrelated primes (e.g., pink–LAMP). No facilitation was observed for nonword targets. Targets that almost rhymed with their primes (foils; e.g., bulk–SULSH) were included in Experiment 2; facilitation for rhyming targets was severely attenuated. Experiments 3 and 4 were single-word shadowing variants of the earlier experiments. There was facilitation for both rhyming words and nonwords; the presence of foils had no significant influence on the priming effect. A major component of the facilitation in lexical decision appears to be strategic: Listeners are biased to say “yes” to targets that rhyme with their primes, unless foils discourage this strategy. The nonstrategic component of phonological facilitation may reflect speech perception processes that operate prior to lexical access.
  • Spinelli, E., Cutler, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2002). Resolution of liaison for lexical access in French. Revue Française de Linguistique Appliquée, 7, 83-96.

    Abstract

    Spoken word recognition involves automatic activation of lexical candidates compatible with the perceived input. In running speech, words abut one another without intervening gaps, and syllable boundaries can mismatch with word boundaries. For instance, liaison in ’petit agneau’ creates a syllable beginning with a consonant although ’agneau’ begins with a vowel. In two cross-modal priming experiments we investigate how French listeners recognise words in liaison environments. These results suggest that the resolution of liaison in part depends on acoustic cues which distinguish liaison from non-liaison consonants, and in part on the availability of lexical support for a liaison interpretation.
  • Cutler, A. (2001). Entries on: Acquisition of language by non-human primates; bilingualism; compound (linguistic); development of language-specific phonology; gender (linguistic); grammar; infant speech perception; language; lexicon; morphology; motor theory of speech perception; perception of second languages; phoneme; phonological store; phonology; prosody; sign language; slips of the tongue; speech perception; speech production; stress (linguistic); syntax; word recognition; words. In P. Winn (Ed.), Dictionary of biological psychology. London: Routledge.
  • Cutler, A. (2001). Listening to a second language through the ears of a first. Interpreting, 5, 1-23.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Somejuan, A. (2001). The roll of the silly ball. In E. Dupoux (Ed.), Language, brain and cognitive development: Essays in honor of Jacques Mehler (pp. 181-194). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Cutler, A., & Van Donselaar, W. (2001). Voornaam is not a homophone: Lexical prosody and lexical access in Dutch. Language and Speech, 44, 171-195. doi:10.1177/00238309010440020301.

    Abstract

    Four experiments examined Dutch listeners’ use of suprasegmental information in spoken-word recognition. Isolated syllables excised from minimal stress pairs such as VOORnaam/voorNAAM could be reliably assigned to their source words. In lexical decision, no priming was observed from one member of minimal stress pairs to the other, suggesting that the pairs’ segmental ambiguity was removed by suprasegmental information.Words embedded in nonsense strings were harder to detect if the nonsense string itself formed the beginning of a competing word, but a suprasegmental mismatch to the competing word significantly reduced this inhibition. The same nonsense strings facilitated recognition of the longer words of which they constituted the beginning, butagain the facilitation was significantly reduced by suprasegmental mismatch. Together these results indicate that Dutch listeners effectively exploit suprasegmental cues in recognizing spoken words. Nonetheless, suprasegmental mismatch appears to be somewhat less effective in constraining activation than segmental mismatch.
  • McQueen, J. M., Otake, T., & Cutler, A. (2001). Rhythmic cues and possible-word constraints in Japanese speech segmentation. Journal of Memory and Language, 45, 103-132. doi:10.1006/jmla.2000.2763.

    Abstract

    In two word-spotting experiments, Japanese listeners detected Japanese words faster in vowel contexts (e.g., agura, to sit cross-legged, in oagura) than in consonant contexts (e.g., tagura). In the same experiments, however, listeners spotted words in vowel contexts (e.g., saru, monkey, in sarua) no faster than in moraic nasal contexts (e.g., saruN). In a third word-spotting experiment, words like uni, sea urchin, followed contexts consisting of a consonant-consonant-vowel mora (e.g., gya) plus either a moraic nasal (gyaNuni), a vowel (gyaouni) or a consonant (gyabuni). Listeners spotted words as easily in the first as in the second context (where in each case the target words were aligned with mora boundaries), but found it almost impossible to spot words in the third (where there was a single consonant, such as the [b] in gyabuni, between the beginning of the word and the nearest preceding mora boundary). Three control experiments confirmed that these effects reflected the relative ease of segmentation of the words from their contexts.We argue that the listeners showed sensitivity to the viability of sound sequences as possible Japanese words in the way that they parsed the speech into words. Since single consonants are not possible Japanese words, the listeners avoided lexical parses including single consonants and thus had difficulty recognizing words in the consonant contexts. Even though moraic nasals are also impossible words, they were not difficult segmentation contexts because, as with the vowel contexts, the mora boundaries between the contexts and the target words signaled likely word boundaries. Moraic rhythm appears to provide Japanese listeners with important segmentation cues.
  • McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2001). Spoken word access processes: An introduction. Language and Cognitive Processes, 16, 469-490. doi:10.1080/01690960143000209.

    Abstract

    We introduce the papers in this special issue by summarising the current major issues in spoken word recognition. We argue that a full understanding of the process of lexical access during speech comprehension will depend on resolving several key representational issues: what is the form of the representations used for lexical access; how is phonological information coded in the mental lexicon; and how is the morphological and semantic information about each word stored? We then discuss a number of distinct access processes: competition between lexical hypotheses; the computation of goodness-of-fit between the signal and stored lexical knowledge; segmentation of continuous speech; whether the lexicon influences prelexical processing through feedback; and the relationship of form-based processing to the processes responsible for deriving an interpretation of a complete utterance. We conclude that further progress may well be made by swapping ideas among the different sub-domains of the discipline.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., Butterfield, S., & Kearns, R. (2001). Language-universal constraints on speech segmentation. Language and Cognitive Processes, 16, 637-660. doi:10.1080/01690960143000119.

    Abstract

    Two word-spotting experiments are reported that examine whether the Possible-Word Constraint (PWC) is a language-specific or language-universal strategy for the segmentation of continuous speech. The PWC disfavours parses which leave an impossible residue between the end of a candidate word and any likely location of a word boundary, as cued in the speech signal. The experiments examined cases where the residue was either a CVC syllable with a schwa, or a CV syllable with a lax vowel. Although neither of these syllable contexts is a possible lexical word in English, word-spotting in both contexts was easier than in a context consisting of a single consonant. Two control lexical-decision experiments showed that the word-spotting results reflected the relative segmentation difficulty of the words in different contexts. The PWC appears to be language-universal rather than language-specific.
  • Soto-Faraco, S., Sebastian-Galles, N., & Cutler, A. (2001). Segmental and suprasegmental mismatch in lexical access. Journal of Memory and Language, 45, 412-432. doi:10.1006/jmla.2000.2783.

    Abstract

    Four cross-modal priming experiments in Spanish addressed the role of suprasegmental and segmental information in the activation of spoken words. Listeners heard neutral sentences ending with word fragments (e.g., princi-) and made lexical decisions on letter strings presented at fragment offset. Responses were compared for fragment primes that fully matched the spoken form of the initial portion of target words, versus primes that mismatched in a single element (stress pattern; one vowel; one consonant), versus control primes. Fully matching primes always facilitated lexical decision responses, in comparison to the control condition, while mismatching primes always produced inhibition. The respective strength of the contribution of stress, vowel, and consonant (one feature mismatch or more) information did not differ statistically. The results support a model of spoken-word recognition involving automatic activation of word forms and competition between activated words, in which the activation process is sensitive to all acoustic information relevant to the language’s phonology.
  • Warner, N., Jongman, A., Cutler, A., & Mücke, D. (2001). The phonological status of Dutch epenthetic schwa. Phonology, 18, 387-420. doi:10.1017/S0952675701004213.

    Abstract

    In this paper, we use articulatory measures to determine whether Dutch schwa epenthesis is an abstract phonological process or a concrete phonetic process depending on articulatory timing. We examine tongue position during /l/ before underlying schwa and epenthetic schwa and in coda position. We find greater tip raising before both types of schwa, indicating light /l/ before schwa and dark /l/ in coda position. We argue that the ability of epenthetic schwa to condition the /l/ alternation shows that Dutch schwa epenthesis is an abstract phonological process involving insertion of some unit, and cannot be accounted for within Articulatory Phonology.
  • Clifton, Jr., C., Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Van Ooijen, B. (1999). The processing of inflected forms. [Commentary on H. Clahsen: Lexical entries and rules of language.]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 1018-1019.

    Abstract

    Clashen proposes two distinct processing routes, for regularly and irregularly inflected forms, respectively, and thus is apparently making a psychological claim. We argue his position, which embodies a strictly linguistic perspective, does not constitute a psychological processing model.
  • Cutler, A., & Clifton, Jr., C. (1999). Comprehending spoken language: A blueprint of the listener. In C. M. Brown, & P. Hagoort (Eds.), The neurocognition of language (pp. 123-166). Oxford University Press.
  • Cutler, A. (1999). Foreword. In Slips of the Ear: Errors in the perception of Casual Conversation (pp. xiii-xv). New York City, NY, USA: Academic Press.
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1999). Sharpening Ockham’s razor (Commentary on W.J.M. Levelt, A. Roelofs & A.S. Meyer: A theory of lexical access in speech production). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 40-41.

    Abstract

    Language production and comprehension are intimately interrelated; and models of production and comprehension should, we argue, be constrained by common architectural guidelines. Levelt et al.'s target article adopts as guiding principle Ockham's razor: the best model of production is the simplest one. We recommend adoption of the same principle in comprehension, with consequent simplification of some well-known types of models.
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (1999). Pitch accent in spoken-word recognition in Japanese. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 105, 1877-1888.

    Abstract

    Three experiments addressed the question of whether pitch-accent information may be exploited in the process of recognizing spoken words in Tokyo Japanese. In a two-choice classification task, listeners judged from which of two words, differing in accentual structure, isolated syllables had been extracted ~e.g., ka from baka HL or gaka LH!; most judgments were correct, and listeners’ decisions were correlated with the fundamental frequency characteristics of the syllables. In a gating experiment, listeners heard initial fragments of words and guessed what the words were; their guesses overwhelmingly had the same initial accent structure as the gated word even when only the beginning CV of the stimulus ~e.g., na- from nagasa HLL or nagashi LHH! was presented. In addition, listeners were more confident in guesses with the same initial accent structure as the stimulus than in guesses with different accent. In a lexical decision experiment, responses to spoken words ~e.g., ame HL! were speeded by previous presentation of the same word ~e.g., ame HL! but not by previous presentation of a word differing only in accent ~e.g., ame LH!. Together these findings provide strong evidence that accentual information constrains the activation and selection of candidates for spoken-word recognition.
  • Cutler, A. (1999). Spoken-word recognition. In R. A. Wilson, & F. C. Keil (Eds.), MIT encyclopedia of the cognitive sciences (pp. 796-798). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Cutler, A. (1999). Prosodische Struktur und Worterkennung bei gesprochener Sprache. In A. D. Friedrici (Ed.), Enzyklopädie der Psychologie: Sprachrezeption (pp. 49-83). Göttingen: Hogrefe.
  • Cutler, A. (1999). Prosody and intonation, processing issues. In R. A. Wilson, & F. C. Keil (Eds.), MIT encyclopedia of the cognitive sciences (pp. 682-683). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1999). Lexical influence in phonetic decision-making: Evidence from subcategorical mismatches. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 25, 1363-1389. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.25.5.1363.

    Abstract

    In 5 experiments, listeners heard words and nonwords, some cross-spliced so that they contained acoustic-phonetic mismatches. Performance was worse on mismatching than on matching items. Words cross-spliced with words and words cross-spliced with nonwords produced parallel results. However, in lexical decision and 1 of 3 phonetic decision experiments, performance on nonwords cross-spliced with words was poorer than on nonwords cross-spliced with nonwords. A gating study confirmed that there were misleading coarticulatory cues in the cross-spliced items; a sixth experiment showed that the earlier results were not due to interitem differences in the strength of these cues. Three models of phonetic decision making (the Race model, the TRACE model, and a postlexical model) did not explain the data. A new bottom-up model is outlined that accounts for the findings in terms of lexical involvement at a dedicated decision-making stage.
  • Otake, T., & Cutler, A. (1999). Perception of suprasegmental structure in a nonnative dialect. Journal of Phonetics, 27, 229-253. doi:10.1006/jpho.1999.0095.

    Abstract

    Two experiments examined the processing of Tokyo Japanese pitchaccent distinctions by native speakers of Japanese from two accentlessvariety areas. In both experiments, listeners were presented with Tokyo Japanese speech materials used in an earlier study with Tokyo Japanese listeners, who clearly exploited the pitch-accent information in spokenword recognition. In the "rst experiment, listeners judged from which of two words, di!ering in accentual structure, isolated syllables had been extracted. Both new groups were, overall, as successful at this task as Tokyo Japanese speakers had been, but their response patterns differed from those of the Tokyo Japanese, for instance in that a bias towards H judgments in the Tokyo Japanese responses was weakened in the present groups' responses. In a second experiment, listeners heard word fragments and guessed what the words were; in this task, the speakers from accentless areas again performed significantly above chance, but their responses showed less sensitivity to the information in the input, and greater bias towards vocabulary distribution frequencies, than had been observed with the Tokyo Japanese listeners. The results suggest that experience with a local accentless dialect affects the processing of accent for word recognition in Tokyo Japanese, even for listeners with extensive exposure to Tokyo Japanese.
  • Van Donselaar, W., Kuijpers, C. T., & Cutler, A. (1999). Facilitatory effects of vowel epenthesis on word processing in Dutch. Journal of Memory and Language, 41, 59-77. doi:10.1006/jmla.1999.2635.

    Abstract

    We report a series of experiments examining the effects on word processing of insertion of an optional epenthetic vowel in word-final consonant clusters in Dutch. Such epenthesis turns film, for instance, into film. In a word-reversal task listeners treated words with and without epenthesis alike, as monosyllables, suggesting that the variant forms both activate the same canonical representation, that of a monosyllabic word without epenthesis. In both lexical decision and word spotting, response times to recognize words were significantly faster when epenthesis was present than when the word was presented in its canonical form without epenthesis. It is argued that addition of the epenthetic vowel makes the liquid consonants constituting the first member of a cluster more perceptible; a final phoneme-detection experiment confirmed that this was the case. These findings show that a transformed variant of a word, although it contacts the lexicon via the representation of the canonical form, can be more easily perceptible than that canonical form.
  • Beattie, G. W., Cutler, A., & Pearson, M. (1982). Why is Mrs Thatcher interrupted so often? [Letters to Nature]. Nature, 300, 744-747. doi:10.1038/300744a0.

    Abstract

    If a conversation is to proceed smoothly, the participants have to take turns to speak. Studies of conversation have shown that there are signals which speakers give to inform listeners that they are willing to hand over the conversational turn1−4. Some of these signals are part of the text (for example, completion of syntactic segments), some are non-verbal (such as completion of a gesture), but most are carried by the pitch, timing and intensity pattern of the speech; for example, both pitch and loudness tend to drop particularly low at the end of a speaker's turn. When one speaker interrupts another, the two can be said to be disputing who has the turn. Interruptions can occur because one participant tries to dominate or disrupt the conversation. But it could also be the case that mistakes occur in the way these subtle turn-yielding signals are transmitted and received. We demonstrate here that many interruptions in an interview with Mrs Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, occur at points where independent judges agree that her turn appears to have finished. It is suggested that she is unconsciously displaying turn-yielding cues at certain inappropriate points. The turn-yielding cues responsible are identified.
  • Cutler, A. (1982). Idioms: the older the colder. Linguistic Inquiry, 13(2), 317-320. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4178278?origin=JSTOR-pdf.
  • Cutler, A., & Fay, D. A. (1982). One mental lexicon, phonologically arranged: Comments on Hurford’s comments. Linguistic Inquiry, 13, 107-113. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4178262.
  • Cutler, A. (1982). Prosody and sentence perception in English. In J. Mehler, E. C. Walker, & M. Garrett (Eds.), Perspectives on mental representation: Experimental and theoretical studies of cognitive processes and capacities (pp. 201-216). Hillsdale, N.J: Erlbaum.
  • 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.

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