Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1988). Limits on bilingualism [Letters to Nature]. Nature, 340, 229-230. doi:10.1038/340229a0.

    Abstract

    SPEECH, in any language, is continuous; speakers provide few reliable cues to the boundaries of words, phrases, or other meaningful units. To understand speech, listeners must divide the continuous speech stream into portions that correspond to such units. This segmentation process is so basic to human language comprehension that psycholinguists long assumed that all speakers would do it in the same way. In previous research1,2, however, we reported that segmentation routines can be language-specific: speakers of French process spoken words syllable by syllable, but speakers of English do not. French has relatively clear syllable boundaries and syllable-based timing patterns, whereas English has relatively unclear syllable boundaries and stress-based timing; thus syllabic segmentation would work more efficiently in the comprehension of French than in the comprehension of English. Our present study suggests that at this level of language processing, there are limits to bilingualism: a bilingual speaker has one and only one basic language.
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1988). The role of strong syllables in segmentation for lexical access. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14, 113-121. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.14.1.113.

    Abstract

    A model of speech segmentation in a stress language is proposed, according to which the occurrence of a strong syllable triggers segmentation of the speech signal, whereas occurrence of a weak syllable does not trigger segmentation. We report experiments in which listeners detected words embedded in nonsense bisyllables more slowly when the bisyllable had two strong syllables than when it had a strong and a weak syllable; mint was detected more slowly in mintayve than in mintesh. According to our proposed model, this result is an effect of segmentation: When the second syllable is strong, it is segmented from the first syllable, and successful detection of the embedded word therefore requires assembly of speech material across a segmentation position. Speech recognition models involving phonemic or syllabic recoding, or based on strictly left-to-right processes, do not predict this result. It is argued that segmentation at strong syllables in continuous speech recognition serves the purpose of detecting the most efficient locations at which to initiate lexical access. (C) 1988 by the American Psychological Association
  • Henderson, L., Coltheart, M., Cutler, A., & Vincent, N. (1988). Preface. Linguistics, 26(4), 519-520. doi:10.1515/ling.1988.26.4.519.
  • Mehta, G., & Cutler, A. (1988). Detection of target phonemes in spontaneous and read speech. Language and Speech, 31, 135-156.

    Abstract

    Although spontaneous speech occurs more frequently in most listeners’ experience than read speech, laboratory studies of human speech recognition typically use carefully controlled materials read from a script. The phonological and prosodic characteristics of spontaneous and read speech differ considerably, however, which suggests that laboratory results may not generalize to the recognition of spontaneous and read speech materials, and their response time to detect word-initial target phonemes was measured. Response were, overall, equally fast in each speech mode. However analysis of effects previously reported in phoneme detection studies revealed significant differences between speech modes. In read speech but not in spontaneous speech, later targets were detected more rapidly than earlier targets, and targets preceded by long words were detected more rapidly than targets preceded by short words. In contrast, in spontaneous speech but not in read speech, targets were detected more rapidly in accented than unaccented words and in strong than in weak syllables. An explanation for this pattern is offered in terms of characteristic prosodic differences between spontaneous and read speech. The results support claim from previous work that listeners pay great attention to prosodic information in the process of recognizing speech.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1988). Speech recognition in French and English. MRC News, 39, 30-31.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1988). The relative accessibility of phonemes and syllables. Perception and Psychophysics, 43, 541-550. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=8530.

    Abstract

    Previous research comparing detection times for syllables and for phonemes has consistently found that syllables are responded to faster than phonemes. This finding poses theoretical problems for strictly hierarchical models of speech recognition, in which smaller units should be able to be identified faster than larger units. However, inspection of the characteristics of previous experiments’stimuli reveals that subjects have been able to respond to syllables on the basis of only a partial analysis of the stimulus. In the present experiment, five groups of subjects listened to identical stimulus material. Phoneme and syllable monitoring under standard conditions was compared with monitoring under conditions in which near matches of target and stimulus occurred on no-response trials. In the latter case, when subjects were forced to analyze each stimulus fully, phonemes were detected faster than syllables.
  • Connine, C. M., Clifton, Jr., C., & Cutler, A. (1987). Effects of lexical stress on phonetic categorization. Phonetica, 44, 133-146.
  • Cutler, A., Norris, D., & Williams, J. (1987). A note on the role of phonological expectations in speech segmentation. Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 480-487. doi:10.1016/0749-596X(87)90103-3.

    Abstract

    Word-initial CVC syllables are detected faster in words beginning consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel (CVCV-) than in words beginning consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant (CVCC-). This effect was reported independently by M. Taft and G. Hambly (1985, Journal of Memory and Language, 24, 320–335) and by A. Cutler, J. Mehler, D. Norris, and J. Segui (1986, Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 385–400). Taft and Hambly explained the effect in terms of lexical factors. This explanation cannot account for Cutler et al.'s results, in which the effect also appeared with nonwords and foreign words. Cutler et al. suggested that CVCV-sequences might simply be easier to perceive than CVCC-sequences. The present study confirms this suggestion, and explains it as a reflection of listener expectations constructed on the basis of distributional characteristics of the language.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1987). Phoneme identification and the lexicon. Cognitive Psychology, 19, 141-177. doi:10.1016/0010-0285(87)90010-7.
  • Cutler, A., Butterfield, S., & Williams, J. (1987). The perceptual integrity of syllabic onsets. Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 406-418. doi:10.1016/0749-596X(87)90099-4.
  • Cutler, A., & Carter, D. (1987). The predominance of strong initial syllables in the English vocabulary. Computer Speech and Language, 2, 133-142. doi:10.1016/0885-2308(87)90004-0.

    Abstract

    Studies of human speech processing have provided evidence for a segmentation strategy in the perception of continuous speech, whereby a word boundary is postulated, and a lexical access procedure initiated, at each metrically strong syllable. The likely success of this strategy was here estimated against the characteristics of the English vocabulary. Two computerized dictionaries were found to list approximately three times as many words beginning with strong syllables (i.e. syllables containing a full vowel) as beginning with weak syllables (i.e. syllables containing a reduced vowel). Consideration of frequency of lexical word occurrence reveals that words beginning with strong syllables occur on average more often than words beginning with weak syllables. Together, these findings motivate an estimate for everyday speech recognition that approximately 85% of lexical words (i.e. excluding function words) will begin with strong syllables. This estimate was tested against a corpus of 190 000 words of spontaneous British English conversion. In this corpus, 90% of lexical words were found to begin with strong syllables. This suggests that a strategy of postulating word boundaries at the onset of strong syllables would have a high success rate in that few actual lexical word onsets would be missed.
  • Cutler, A. (1987). The task of the speaker and the task of the hearer [Commentary/Sperber & Wilson: Relevance]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 10, 715-716.
  • 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.

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