Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16
  • Kember, H., Choi, J., Yu, J., & Cutler, A. (2019). The processing of linguistic prominence. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0023830919880217.

    Abstract

    Prominence, the expression of informational weight within utterances, can be signaled by prosodic highlighting (head-prominence, as in English) or by position (as in Korean edge-prominence). Prominence confers processing advantages, even if conveyed only by discourse manipulations. Here we compared processing of prominence in English and Korean, using a task that indexes processing success, namely recognition memory. In each language, participants’ memory was tested for target words heard in sentences in which they were prominent due to prosody, position, both or neither. Prominence produced recall advantage, but the relative effects differed across language. For Korean listeners the positional advantage was greater, but for English listeners prosodic and syntactic prominence had equivalent and additive effects. In a further experiment semantic and phonological foils tested depth of processing of the recall targets. Both foil types were correctly rejected, suggesting that semantic processing had not reached the level at which word form was no longer available. Together the results suggest that prominence processing is primarily driven by universal effects of information structure; but language-specific differences in frequency of experience prompt different relative advantages of prominence signal types. Processing efficiency increases in each case, however, creating more accurate and more rapidly contactable memory representations.
  • Nazzi, T., & Cutler, A. (2019). How consonants and vowels shape spoken-language recognition. Annual Review of Linguistics, 5, 25-47. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011718-011919.

    Abstract

    All languages instantiate a consonant/vowel contrast. This contrast has processing consequences at different levels of spoken-language recognition throughout the lifespan. In adulthood, lexical processing is more strongly associated with consonant than with vowel processing; this has been demonstrated across 13 languages from seven language families and in a variety of auditory lexical-level tasks (deciding whether a spoken input is a word, spotting a real word embedded in a minimal context, reconstructing a word minimally altered into a pseudoword, learning new words or the “words” of a made-up language), as well as in written-word tasks involving phonological processing. In infancy, a consonant advantage in word learning and recognition is found to emerge during development in some languages, though possibly not in others, revealing that the stronger lexicon–consonant association found in adulthood is learned. Current research is evaluating the relative contribution of the early acquisition of the acoustic/phonetic and lexical properties of the native language in the emergence of this association
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (1997). Contrastive studies of spoken-language processing. Journal of Phonetic Society of Japan, 1, 4-13.
  • Cutler, A., & Chen, H.-C. (1997). Lexical tone in Cantonese spoken-word processing. Perception and Psychophysics, 59, 165-179. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=778.

    Abstract

    In three experiments, the processing of lexical tone in Cantonese was examined. Cantonese listeners more often accepted a nonword as a word when the only difference between the nonword and the word was in tone, especially when the F0 onset difference between correct and erroneous tone was small. Same–different judgments by these listeners were also slower and less accurate when the only difference between two syllables was in tone, and this was true whether the F0 onset difference between the two tones was large or small. Listeners with no knowledge of Cantonese produced essentially the same same-different judgment pattern as that produced by the native listeners, suggesting that the results display the effects of simple perceptual processing rather than of linguistic knowledge. It is argued that the processing of lexical tone distinctions may be slowed, relative to the processing of segmental distinctions, and that, in speeded-response tasks, tone is thus more likely to be misprocessed than is segmental structure.
  • Cutler, A., Dahan, D., & Van Donselaar, W. (1997). Prosody in the comprehension of spoken language: A literature review. Language and Speech, 40, 141-201.

    Abstract

    Research on the exploitation of prosodic information in the recognition of spoken language is reviewed. The research falls into three main areas: the use of prosody in the recognition of spoken words, in which most attention has been paid to the question of whether the prosodic structure of a word plays a role in initial contact with stored lexical representations; the use of prosody in the computation of syntactic structure, in which the resolution of global and local ambiguities has formed the central focus; and the role of prosody in the processing of discourse structure, in which there has been a preponderance of work on the contribution of accentuation and deaccentuation to integration of concepts with an existing discourse model. The review reveals that in each area progress has been made towards new conceptions of prosody's role in processing, and in particular this has involved abandonment of previously held deterministic views of the relationship between prosodic structure and other aspects of linguistic structure
  • Cutler, A. (1997). The comparative perspective on spoken-language processing. Speech Communication, 21, 3-15. doi:10.1016/S0167-6393(96)00075-1.

    Abstract

    Psycholinguists strive to construct a model of human language processing in general. But this does not imply that they should confine their research to universal aspects of linguistic structure, and avoid research on language-specific phenomena. First, even universal characteristics of language structure can only be accurately observed cross-linguistically. This point is illustrated here by research on the role of the syllable in spoken-word recognition, on the perceptual processing of vowels versus consonants, and on the contribution of phonetic assimilation phonemena to phoneme identification. In each case, it is only by looking at the pattern of effects across languages that it is possible to understand the general principle. Second, language-specific processing can certainly shed light on the universal model of language comprehension. This second point is illustrated by studies of the exploitation of vowel harmony in the lexical segmentation of Finnish, of the recognition of Dutch words with and without vowel epenthesis, and of the contribution of different kinds of lexical prosodic structure (tone, pitch accent, stress) to the initial activation of candidate words in lexical access. In each case, aspects of the universal processing model are revealed by analysis of these language-specific effects. In short, the study of spoken-language processing by human listeners requires cross-linguistic comparison.
  • Cutler, A. (1997). The syllable’s role in the segmentation of stress languages. Language and Cognitive Processes, 12, 839-845. doi:10.1080/016909697386718.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1997). The possible-word constraint in the segmentation of continuous speech. Cognitive Psychology, 34, 191-243. doi:10.1006/cogp.1997.0671.

    Abstract

    We propose that word recognition in continuous speech is subject to constraints on what may constitute a viable word of the language. This Possible-Word Constraint (PWC) reduces activation of candidate words if their recognition would imply word status for adjacent input which could not be a word - for instance, a single consonant. In two word-spotting experiments, listeners found it much harder to detectapple,for example, infapple(where [f] alone would be an impossible word), than invuffapple(wherevuffcould be a word of English). We demonstrate that the PWC can readily be implemented in a competition-based model of continuous speech recognition, as a constraint on the process of competition between candidate words; where a stretch of speech between a candidate word and a (known or likely) word boundary is not a possible word, activation of the candidate word is reduced. This implementation accurately simulates both the present results and data from a range of earlier studies of speech segmentation.
  • Suomi, K., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1997). Vowel harmony and speech segmentation in Finnish. Journal of Memory and Language, 36, 422-444. doi:10.1006/jmla.1996.2495.

    Abstract

    Finnish vowel harmony rules require that if the vowel in the first syllable of a word belongs to one of two vowel sets, then all subsequent vowels in that word must belong either to the same set or to a neutral set. A harmony mismatch between two syllables containing vowels from the opposing sets thus signals a likely word boundary. We report five experiments showing that Finnish listeners can exploit this information in an on-line speech segmentation task. Listeners found it easier to detect words likehymyat the end of the nonsense stringpuhymy(where there is a harmony mismatch between the first two syllables) than in the stringpyhymy(where there is no mismatch). There was no such effect, however, when the target words appeared at the beginning of the nonsense string (e.g.,hymypuvshymypy). Stronger harmony effects were found for targets containing front harmony vowels (e.g.,hymy) than for targets containing back harmony vowels (e.g.,paloinkypaloandkupalo). The same pattern of results appeared whether target position within the string was predictable or unpredictable. Harmony mismatch thus appears to provide a useful segmentation cue for the detection of word onsets in Finnish speech.
  • Cutler, A. (1981). Degrees of transparency in word formation. Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 26, 73-77.
  • Cutler, A. (1981). Making up materials is a confounded nuisance, or: Will we able to run any psycholinguistic experiments at all in 1990? Cognition, 10, 65-70. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(81)90026-3.
  • Cutler, A., & Darwin, C. J. (1981). Phoneme-monitoring reaction time and preceding prosody: Effects of stop closure duration and of fundamental frequency. Perception and Psychophysics, 29, 217-224. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=12660.

    Abstract

    In an earlier study, it was shown that listeners can use prosodic cues that predict where sentence stress will fall; phoneme-monitoring RTs are faster when the preceding prosody indicates that the word bearing the target will be stressed. Two experiments which further investigate this effect are described. In the first, it is shown that the duration of the closure preceding the release of the target stop consonant burst does not affect the RT advantage for stressed words. In the second, it is shown that fundamental frequency variation is not a necessary component of the prosodic variation that produces the predicted-stress effect. It is argued that sentence processing involves a very flexible use of prosodic information.
  • Cutler, A. (1981). The reliability of speech error data. Linguistics, 19, 561-582.
  • Fodor, J. A., & Cutler, A. (1981). Semantic focus and sentence comprehension. Cognition, 7, 49-59. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(79)90010-6.

    Abstract

    Reaction time to detect a phoneme target in a sentence was found to be faster when the word in which the target occurred formed part of the semantic focus of the sentence. Focus was determined by asking a question before the sentence; that part of the sentence which comprised the answer to the sentence was assumed to be focussed. This procedure made it possible to vary position offocus within the sentence while holding all acoustic aspects of the sentence itself constant. It is argued that sentence understanding is facilitated by rapid identification of focussed information. Since focussed words are usually accented, it is further argued that the active search for accented words demonstrated in previous research should be interpreted as a search for semantic focus.
  • Garnham, A., Shillcock, R. C., Brown, G. D. A., Mill, A. I. D., & Cutler, A. (1981). Slips of the tongue in the London-Lund corpus of spontaneous conversation. Linguistics, 19, 805-817.
  • Cutler, A., & Cooper, W. E. (1978). Phoneme-monitoring in the context of different phonetic sequences. Journal of Phonetics, 6, 221-225.

    Abstract

    The order of some conjoined words is rigidly fixed (e.g. dribs and drabs/*drabs and dribs). Both phonetic and semantic factors can play a role in determining the fixed order. An experiment was conducted to test whether listerners’ reaction times for monitoring a predetermined phoneme are influenced by phonetic constraints on ordering. Two such constraints were investigated: monosyllable-bissyllable and high-low vowel sequences. In English, conjoined words occur in such sequences with much greater frequency than their converses, other factors being equal. Reaction times were significantly shorter for phoneme monitoring in monosyllable-bisyllable sequences than in bisyllable- monosyllable sequences. However, reaction times were not significantly different for high-low vs. low-high vowel sequences.

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