Anne Cutler †


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  • Murty, L., Otake, T., & Cutler, A. (2007). Perceptual tests of rhythmic similarity: I. Mora Rhythm. Language and Speech, 50(1), 77-99. doi:10.1177/00238309070500010401.


    Listeners rely on native-language rhythm in segmenting speech; in different languages, stress-, syllable- or mora-based rhythm is exploited. The rhythmic similarity hypothesis holds that where two languages have similar rhythm, listeners of each language should segment their own and the other language similarly. Such similarity in listening was previously observed only for related languages (English-Dutch; French-Spanish). We now report three experiments in which speakers of Telugu, a Dravidian language unrelated to Japanese but similar to it in crucial aspects of rhythmic structure, heard speech in Japanese and in their own language, and Japanese listeners heard Telugu. For the Telugu listeners, detection of target sequences in Japanese speech was harder when target boundaries mismatched mora boundaries, exactly the pattern that Japanese listeners earlier exhibited with Japanese and other languages. The same results appeared when Japanese listeners heard Telugu speech containing only codas permissible in Japanese. Telugu listeners' results with Telugu speech were mixed, but the overall pattern revealed correspondences between the response patterns of the two listener groups, as predicted by the rhythmic similarity hypothesis. Telugu and Japanese listeners appear to command similar procedures for speech segmentation, further bolstering the proposal that aspects of language phonological structure affect listeners' speech segmentation.
  • Snijders, T. M., Kooijman, V., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2007). Neurophysiological evidence of delayed segmentation in a foreign language. Brain Research, 1178, 106-113. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.07.080.


    Previous studies have shown that segmentation skills are language-specific, making it difficult to segment continuous speech in an unfamiliar language into its component words. Here we present the first study capturing the delay in segmentation and recognition in the foreign listener using ERPs. We compared the ability of Dutch adults and of English adults without knowledge of Dutch (‘foreign listeners’) to segment familiarized words from continuous Dutch speech. We used the known effect of repetition on the event-related potential (ERP) as an index of recognition of words in continuous speech. Our results show that word repetitions in isolation are recognized with equivalent facility by native and foreign listeners, but word repetitions in continuous speech are not. First, words familiarized in isolation are recognized faster by native than by foreign listeners when they are repeated in continuous speech. Second, when words that have previously been heard only in a continuous-speech context re-occur in continuous speech, the repetition is detected by native listeners, but is not detected by foreign listeners. A preceding speech context facilitates word recognition for native listeners, but delays or even inhibits word recognition for foreign listeners. We propose that the apparent difference in segmentation rate between native and foreign listeners is grounded in the difference in language-specific skills available to the listeners.
  • Cutler, A. (1979). Beyond parsing and lexical look-up. In R. J. Wales, & E. C. T. Walker (Eds.), New approaches to language mechanisms: a collection of psycholinguistic studies (pp. 133-149). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
  • Cutler, A. (1979). Contemporary reaction to Rudolf Meringer’s speech error research. Historiograpia Linguistica, 6, 57-76.
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1979). Monitoring sentence comprehension. In W. E. Cooper, & E. C. T. Walker (Eds.), Sentence processing: Psycholinguistic studies presented to Merrill Garrett (pp. 113-134). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.
  • Swinney, D. A., & Cutler, A. (1979). The access and processing of idiomatic expressions. Journal of Verbal Learning an Verbal Behavior, 18, 523-534. doi:10.1016/S0022-5371(79)90284-6.


    Two experiments examined the nature of access, storage, and comprehension of idiomatic phrases. In both studies a Phrase Classification Task was utilized. In this, reaction times to determine whether or not word strings constituted acceptable English phrases were measured. Classification times were significantly faster to idiom than to matched control phrases. This effect held under conditions involving different categories of idioms, different transitional probabilities among words in the phrases, and different levels of awareness of the presence of idioms in the materials. The data support a Lexical Representation Hypothesis for the processing of idioms.

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