Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 44 of 44
  • 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. (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., & 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., 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). 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., McQueen, J. M., Jansonius, M., & Bayerl, S. (2002). The lexical statistics of competitor activation in spoken-word recognition. In C. Bow (Ed.), Proceedings of the 9th Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 40-45). Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association (ASSTA).

    Abstract

    The Possible Word Constraint is a proposed mechanism whereby listeners avoid recognising words spuriously embedded in other words. It applies to words leaving a vowelless residue between their edge and the nearest known word or syllable boundary. The present study tests the usefulness of this constraint via lexical statistics of both English and Dutch. The analyses demonstrate that the constraint removes a clear majority of embedded words in speech, and thus can contribute significantly to the efficiency of human speech recognition
  • 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.
  • Kearns, R. K., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2002). Syllable processing in English. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing [ICSLP 2002] (pp. 1657-1660).

    Abstract

    We describe a reaction time study in which listeners detected word or nonword syllable targets (e.g. zoo, trel) in sequences consisting of the target plus a consonant or syllable residue (trelsh, trelshek). The pattern of responses differed from an earlier word-spotting study with the same material, in which words were always harder to find if only a consonant residue remained. The earlier results should thus not be viewed in terms of syllabic parsing, but in terms of a universal role for syllables in speech perception; words which are accidentally present in spoken input (e.g. sell in self) can be rejected when they leave a residue of the input which could not itself be a word.
  • Kuijpers, C., Van Donselaar, W., & Cutler, A. (2002). Perceptual effects of assimilation-induced violation of final devoicing in Dutch. In J. H. L. Hansen, & B. Pellum (Eds.), The 7th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (pp. 1661-1664). Denver: ICSA.

    Abstract

    Voice assimilation in Dutch is an optional phonological rule which changes the surface forms of words and in doing so may violate the otherwise obligatory phonological rule of syllablefinal devoicing. We report two experiments examining the influence of voice assimilation on phoneme processing, in lexical compound words and in noun-verb phrases. Processing was not impaired in appropriate assimilation contexts across morpheme boundaries, but was impaired when devoicing was violated (a) in an inappropriate non-assimilatory) context, or (b) across a syntactic boundary.
  • 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., Sebastian-Galles, N., Soler-Vilageliu, O., & Van Ooijen, B. (2000). Constraints of vowels and consonants on lexical selection: Cross-linguistic comparisons. Memory & Cognition, 28, 746-755.

    Abstract

    Languages differ in the constitution of their phonemic repertoire and in the relative distinctiveness of phonemes within the repertoire. In the present study, we asked whether such differences constrain spoken-word recognition, via two word reconstruction experiments, in which listeners turned non-words into real words by changing single sounds. The experiments were carried out in Dutch (which has a relatively balanced vowel-consonant ratio and many similar vowels) and in Spanish (which has many more consonants than vowels and high distinctiveness among the vowels). Both Dutch and Spanish listeners responded significantly faster and more accurately when required to change vowels as opposed to consonants; when allowed to change any phoneme, they more often altered vowels than consonants. Vowel information thus appears to constrain lexical selection less tightly (allow more potential candidates) than does consonant information, independent of language-specific phoneme repertoire and of relative distinctiveness of vowels.
  • Cutler, A., & Van de Weijer, J. (2000). De ontdekking van de eerste woorden. Stem-, Spraak- en Taalpathologie, 9, 245-259.

    Abstract

    Spraak is continu, er zijn geen betrouwbare signalen waardoor de luisteraar weet waar het ene woord eindigt en het volgende begint. Voor volwassen luisteraars is het segmenteren van gesproken taal in afzonderlijke woorden dus niet onproblematisch, maar voor een kind dat nog geen woordenschat bezit, vormt de continuïteit van spraak een nog grotere uitdaging. Desalniettemin produceren de meeste kinderen hun eerste herkenbare woorden rond het begin van het tweede levensjaar. Aan deze vroege spraakproducties gaat een formidabele perceptuele prestatie vooraf. Tijdens het eerste levensjaar - met name gedurende de tweede helft - ontwikkelt de spraakperceptie zich van een algemeen fonetisch discriminatievermogen tot een selectieve gevoeligheid voor de fonologische contrasten die in de moedertaal voorkomen. Recent onderzoek heeft verder aangetoond dat kinderen, lang voordat ze ook maar een enkel woord kunnen zeggen, in staat zijn woorden die kenmerkend zijn voor hun moedertaal te onderscheiden van woorden die dat niet zijn. Bovendien kunnen ze woorden die eerst in isolatie werden aangeboden herkennen in een continue spraakcontext. Het dagelijkse taalaanbod aan een kind van deze leeftijd maakt het in zekere zin niet gemakkelijk, bijvoorbeeld doordat de meeste woorden niet in isolatie voorkomen. Toch wordt het kind ook wel houvast geboden, onder andere doordat het woordgebruik beperkt is.
  • Cutler, A. (2000). Hoe het woord het oor verovert. In Voordrachten uitgesproken tijdens de uitreiking van de SPINOZA-premies op 15 februari 2000 (pp. 29-41). The Hague, The Netherlands: Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO).
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Zondervan, R. (2000). Proceedings of SWAP (Workshop on Spoken Word Access Processes). Nijmegen: MPI for Psycholinguistics.
  • Cutler, A. (2000). How the ear comes to hear. In New Trends in Modern Linguistics [Part of Annual catalogue series] (pp. 6-10). Tokyo, Japan: Maruzen Publishers.
  • Cutler, A. (2000). Real words, phantom words and impossible words. In D. Burnham, S. Luksaneeyanawin, C. Davis, & M. Lafourcade (Eds.), Interdisciplinary approaches to language processing: The international conference on human and machine processing of language and speech (pp. 32-42). Bangkok: NECTEC.
  • Cutler, A., & Koster, M. (2000). Stress and lexical activation in Dutch. In B. Yuan, T. Huang, & X. Tang (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing: Vol. 1 (pp. 593-596). Beijing: China Military Friendship Publish.

    Abstract

    Dutch listeners were slower to make judgements about the semantic relatedness between a spoken target word (e.g. atLEET, 'athlete') and a previously presented visual prime word (e.g. SPORT 'sport') when the spoken word was mis-stressed. The adverse effect of mis-stressing confirms the role of stress information in lexical recognition in Dutch. However, although the erroneous stress pattern was always initially compatible with a competing word (e.g. ATlas, 'atlas'), mis-stressed words did not produced high false alarm rates in unrelated pairs (e.g. SPORT - atLAS). This suggests that stress information did not completely rule out segmentally matching but suprasegmentally mismatching words, a finding consistent with spoken-word recognition models involving multiple activation and inter-word competition.
  • Cutler, A., Norris, D., & McQueen, J. M. (2000). Tracking TRACE’s troubles. In A. Cutler, J. M. McQueen, & R. Zondervan (Eds.), Proceedings of SWAP (Workshop on Spoken Word Access Processes) (pp. 63-66). Nijmegen: Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics.

    Abstract

    Simulations explored the inability of the TRACE model of spoken-word recognition to model the effects on human listening of acoustic-phonetic mismatches in word forms. The source of TRACE's failure lay not in its interactive connectivity, not in the presence of interword competition, and not in the use of phonemic representations, but in the need for continuously optimised interpretation of the input. When an analogue of TRACE was allowed to cycle to asymptote on every slice of input, an acceptable simulation of the subcategorical mismatch data was achieved. Even then, however, the simulation was not as close as that produced by the Merge model.
  • Houston, D. M., Jusczyk, P. W., Kuijpers, C., Coolen, R., & Cutler, A. (2000). Cross-language word segmentation by 9-month-olds. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 7, 504-509.

    Abstract

    Dutch-learning and English-learning 9-month-olds were tested, using the Headturn Preference Procedure, for their ability to segment Dutch words with strong/weak stress patterns from fluent Dutch speech. This prosodic pattern is highly typical for words of both languages. The infants were familiarized with pairs of words and then tested on four passages, two that included the familiarized words and two that did not. Both the Dutch- and the English-learning infants gave evidence of segmenting the targets from the passages, to an equivalent degree. Thus, English-learning infants are able to extract words from fluent speech in a language that is phonetically different from English. We discuss the possibility that this cross-language segmentation ability is aided by the similarity of the typical rhythmic structure of Dutch and English words.
  • Johnson, E. K., Jusczyk, P. W., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2000). The development of word recognition: The use of the possible-word constraint by 12-month-olds. In L. Gleitman, & A. Joshi (Eds.), Proceedings of CogSci 2000 (pp. 1034). London: Erlbaum.
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2000). Positive and negative influences of the lexicon on phonemic decision-making. In B. Yuan, T. Huang, & X. Tang (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing: Vol. 3 (pp. 778-781). Beijing: China Military Friendship Publish.

    Abstract

    Lexical knowledge influences how human listeners make decisions about speech sounds. Positive lexical effects (faster responses to target sounds in words than in nonwords) are robust across several laboratory tasks, while negative effects (slower responses to targets in more word-like nonwords than in less word-like nonwords) have been found in phonetic decision tasks but not phoneme monitoring tasks. The present experiments tested whether negative lexical effects are therefore a task-specific consequence of the forced choice required in phonetic decision. We compared phoneme monitoring and phonetic decision performance using the same Dutch materials in each task. In both experiments there were positive lexical effects, but no negative lexical effects. We observe that in all studies showing negative lexical effects, the materials were made by cross-splicing, which meant that they contained perceptual evidence supporting the lexically-consistent phonemes. Lexical knowledge seems to influence phonemic decision-making only when there is evidence for the lexically-consistent phoneme in the speech signal.
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2000). Why Merge really is autonomous and parsimonious. In A. Cutler, J. M. McQueen, & R. Zondervan (Eds.), Proceedings of SWAP (Workshop on Spoken Word Access Processes) (pp. 47-50). Nijmegen: Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics.

    Abstract

    We briefly describe the Merge model of phonemic decision-making, and, in the light of general arguments about the possible role of feedback in spoken-word recognition, defend Merge's feedforward structure. Merge not only accounts adequately for the data, without invoking feedback connections, but does so in a parsimonious manner.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2000). Feedback on feedback on feedback: It’s feedforward. (Response to commentators). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 352-370.

    Abstract

    The central thesis of the target article was that feedback is never necessary in spoken word recognition. The commentaries present no new data and no new theoretical arguments which lead us to revise this position. In this response we begin by clarifying some terminological issues which have lead to a number of significant misunderstandings. We provide some new arguments to support our case that the feedforward model Merge is indeed more parsimonious than the interactive alternatives, and that it provides a more convincing account of the data than alternative models. Finally, we extend the arguments to deal with new issues raised by the commentators such as infant speech perception and neural architecture.
  • Norris, D., Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., Butterfield, S., & Kearns, R. K. (2000). Language-universal constraints on the segmentation of English. In A. Cutler, J. M. McQueen, & R. Zondervan (Eds.), Proceedings of SWAP (Workshop on Spoken Word Access Processes) (pp. 43-46). Nijmegen: Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics.

    Abstract

    Two word-spotting experiments are reported that examine whether the Possible-Word Constraint (PWC) [1] 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 a known boundary. The experiments examined cases where the residue was either a CV syllable with a lax vowel, or a CVC syllable with a schwa. Although neither syllable context is a possible word in English, word-spotting in both contexts was easier than with a context consisting of a single consonant. The PWC appears to be language-universal rather than language-specific.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2000). Merging information in speech recognition: Feedback is never necessary. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 299-325.

    Abstract

    Top-down feedback does not benefit speech recognition; on the contrary, it can hinder it. No experimental data imply that feedback loops are required for speech recognition. Feedback is accordingly unnecessary and spoken word recognition is modular. To defend this thesis, we analyse lexical involvement in phonemic decision making. TRACE (McClelland & Elman 1986), a model with feedback from the lexicon to prelexical processes, is unable to account for all the available data on phonemic decision making. The modular Race model (Cutler & Norris 1979) is likewise challenged by some recent results, however. We therefore present a new modular model of phonemic decision making, the Merge model. In Merge, information flows from prelexical processes to the lexicon without feedback. Because phonemic decisions are based on the merging of prelexical and lexical information, Merge correctly predicts lexical involvement in phonemic decisions in both words and nonwords. Computer simulations show how Merge is able to account for the data through a process of competition between lexical hypotheses. We discuss the issue of feedback in other areas of language processing and conclude that modular models are particularly well suited to the problems and constraints of speech recognition.
  • Norris, D., Cutler, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2000). The optimal architecture for simulating spoken-word recognition. In C. Davis, T. Van Gelder, & R. Wales (Eds.), Cognitive Science in Australia, 2000: Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Conference of the Australasian Cognitive Science Society. Adelaide: Causal Productions.

    Abstract

    Simulations explored the inability of the TRACE model of spoken-word recognition to model the effects on human listening of subcategorical mismatch in word forms. The source of TRACE's failure lay not in interactive connectivity, not in the presence of inter-word competition, and not in the use of phonemic representations, but in the need for continuously optimised interpretation of the input. When an analogue of TRACE was allowed to cycle to asymptote on every slice of input, an acceptable simulation of the subcategorical mismatch data was achieved. Even then, however, the simulation was not as close as that produced by the Merge model, which has inter-word competition, phonemic representations and continuous optimisation (but no interactive connectivity).
  • Otake, T., & Cutler, A. (2000). A set of Japanese word cohorts rated for relative familiarity. In B. Yuan, T. Huang, & X. Tang (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing: Vol. 3 (pp. 766-769). Beijing: China Military Friendship Publish.

    Abstract

    A database is presented of relative familiarity ratings for 24 sets of Japanese words, each set comprising words overlapping in the initial portions. These ratings are useful for the generation of material sets for research in the recognition of spoken words.
  • Cutler, A. (1985). Cross-language psycholinguistics. Linguistics, 23, 659-667.
  • Cutler, A. (1985). Performance measures of lexical complexity. In G. Hoppenbrouwers, P. A. Seuren, & A. Weijters (Eds.), Meaning and the lexicon (pp. 75). Dordrecht: Foris.
  • Cutler, A., & Pearson, M. (1985). On the analysis of prosodic turn-taking cues. In C. Johns-Lewis (Ed.), Intonation in discourse (pp. 139-155). London: Croom Helm.
  • Cutler, A., Hawkins, J. A., & Gilligan, G. (1985). The suffixing preference: A processing explanation. Linguistics, 23, 723-758.
  • Frauenfelder, U. H., & Cutler, A. (1985). Preface. Linguistics, 23(5). doi:10.1515/ling.1985.23.5.657.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1985). Juncture detection. Linguistics, 23, 689-705.
  • 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 cognitive reality of suprasegmental phonology. In T. Myers, J. Laver, & J. Anderson (Eds.), The cognitive representation of speech (pp. 399-400). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
  • 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.

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