Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18
  • 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.
  • Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2011). Competition dynamics of second-language listening. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 74-95. doi:10.1080/17470218.2010.499174.

    Abstract

    Spoken-word recognition in a nonnative language is particularly difficult where it depends on discrimination between confusable phonemes. Four experiments here examine whether this difficulty is in part due to phantom competition from “near-words” in speech. Dutch listeners confuse English /aelig/ and /ε/, which could lead to the sequence daf being interpreted as deaf, or lemp being interpreted as lamp. In auditory lexical decision, Dutch listeners indeed accepted such near-words as real English words more often than English listeners did. In cross-modal priming, near-words extracted from word or phrase contexts (daf from DAFfodil, lemp from eviL EMPire) induced activation of corresponding real words (deaf; lamp) for Dutch, but again not for English, listeners. Finally, by the end of untruncated carrier words containing embedded words or near-words (definite; daffodil) no activation of the real embedded forms (deaf in definite) remained for English or Dutch listeners, but activation of embedded near-words (deaf in daffodil) did still remain, for Dutch listeners only. Misinterpretation of the initial vowel here favoured the phantom competitor and disfavoured the carrier (lexically represented as containing a different vowel). Thus, near-words compete for recognition and continue competing for longer than actually embedded words; nonnative listening indeed involves phantom competition.
  • Cutler, A. (2011). Listening to REAL second language. AATSEEL Newsletter, 54(3), 14.
  • Johnson, E. K., Westrek, E., Nazzi, T., & Cutler, A. (2011). Infant ability to tell voices apart rests on language experience. Developmental Science, 14(5), 1002-1011. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2011.01052.x.

    Abstract

    A visual fixation study tested whether seven-month-olds can discriminate between different talkers. The infants were first habituated to talkers producing sentences in either a familiar or unfamiliar language, then heard test sentences from previously unheard speakers, either in the language used for habituation, or in another language. When the language at test mismatched that in habituation, infants always noticed the change. When language remained constant and only talker altered, however, infants detected the change only if the language was the native tongue. Adult listeners with a different native tongue than the infants did not reproduce the discriminability patterns shown by the infants, and infants detected neither voice nor language changes in reversed speech; both these results argue against explanation of the native-language voice discrimination in terms of acoustic properties of the stimuli. The ability to identify talkers is, like many other perceptual abilities, strongly influenced by early life experience.
  • Tuinman, A., Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2011). Perception of intrusive /r/ in English by native, cross-language and cross-dialect listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 130, 1643-1652. doi:10.1121/1.3619793.

    Abstract

    In sequences such as law and order, speakers of British English often insert /r/ between law and and. Acoustic analyses revealed such “intrusive” /r/ to be significantly shorter than canonical /r/. In a 2AFC experiment, native listeners heard British English sentences in which /r/ duration was manipulated across a word boundary [e.g., saw (r)ice], and orthographic and semantic factors were varied. These listeners responded categorically on the basis of acoustic evidence for /r/ alone, reporting ice after short /r/s, rice after long /r/s; orthographic and semantic factors had no effect. Dutch listeners proficient in English who heard the same materials relied less on durational cues than the native listeners, and were affected by both orthography and semantic bias. American English listeners produced intermediate responses to the same materials, being sensitive to duration (less so than native, more so than Dutch listeners), and to orthography (less so than the Dutch), but insensitive to the semantic manipulation. Listeners from language communities without common use of intrusive /r/ may thus interpret intrusive /r/ as canonical /r/, with a language difference increasing this propensity more than a dialect difference. Native listeners, however, efficiently distinguish intrusive from canonical /r/ by exploiting the relevant acoustic variation.
  • Tuinman, A., & Cutler, A. (2011). L1 knowledge and the perception of casual speech processes in L2. In M. Wrembel, M. Kul, & K. Dziubalska-Kolaczyk (Eds.), Achievements and perspectives in SLA of speech: New Sounds 2010. Volume I (pp. 289-301). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

    Abstract

    Every language manifests casual speech processes, and hence every second language too. This study examined how listeners deal with second-language casual speech processes, as a function of the processes in their native language. We compared a match case, where a second-language process t/-reduction) is also operative in native speech, with a mismatch case, where a second-language process (/r/-insertion) is absent from native speech. In each case native and non-native listeners judged stimuli in which a given phoneme (in sentence context) varied along a continuum from absent to present. Second-language listeners in general mimicked native performance in the match case, but deviated significantly from native performance in the mismatch case. Together these results make it clear that the mapping from first to second language is as important in the interpretation of casual speech processes as in other dimensions of speech perception. Unfamiliar casual speech processes are difficult to adapt to in a second language. Casual speech processes that are already familiar from native speech, however, are easy to adapt to; indeed, our results even suggest that it is possible for subtle difference in their occurrence patterns across the two languages to be detected,and to be accommodated to in second-language listening
  • Cutler, A. (1991). Proceed with caution. New Scientist, (1799), 53-54.
  • 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., & 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.
  • Cutler, A., & Fay, D. (1978). Introduction. In A. Cutler, & D. Fay (Eds.), [Annotated re-issue of R. Meringer and C. Mayer: Versprechen und Verlesen, 1895] (pp. ix-xl). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • 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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