Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 35 of 35
  • Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2019). The dynamics of lexical activation and competition in bilinguals’ first versus second language. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 1342-1346). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

    Abstract

    Speech input causes listeners to activate multiple candidate words which then compete with one another. These include onset competitors, that share a beginning (bumper, butter), but also, counterintuitively, rhyme competitors, sharing an ending (bumper, jumper). In L1, competition is typically stronger for onset than for rhyme. In L2, onset competition has been attested but rhyme competition has heretofore remained largely unexamined. We assessed L1 (Dutch) and L2 (English) word recognition by the same late-bilingual individuals. In each language, eye gaze was recorded as listeners heard sentences and viewed sets of drawings: three unrelated, one depicting an onset or rhyme competitor of a word in the input. Activation patterns revealed substantial onset competition but no significant rhyme competition in either L1 or L2. Rhyme competition may thus be a “luxury” feature of maximally efficient listening, to be abandoned when resources are scarcer, as in listening by late bilinguals, in either language.
  • Cutler, A., Burchfield, A., & Antoniou, M. (2019). A criterial interlocutor tally for successful talker adaptation? In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 1485-1489). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

    Abstract

    Part of the remarkable efficiency of listening is accommodation to unfamiliar talkers’ specific pronunciations by retuning of phonemic intercategory boundaries. Such retuning occurs in second (L2) as well as first language (L1); however, recent research with emigrés revealed successful adaptation in the environmental L2 but, unprecedentedly, not in L1 despite continuing L1 use. A possible explanation involving relative exposure to novel talkers is here tested in heritage language users with Mandarin as family L1 and English as environmental language. In English, exposure to an ambiguous sound in disambiguating word contexts prompted the expected adjustment of phonemic boundaries in subsequent categorisation. However, no adjustment occurred in Mandarin, again despite regular use. Participants reported highly asymmetric interlocutor counts in the two languages. We conclude that successful retuning ability requires regular exposure to novel talkers in the language in question, a criterion not met for the emigrés’ or for these heritage users’ L1.
  • Joo, H., Jang, J., Kim, S., Cho, T., & Cutler, A. (2019). Prosodic structural effects on coarticulatory vowel nasalization in Australian English in comparison to American English. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 835-839). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

    Abstract

    This study investigates effects of prosodic factors (prominence, boundary) on coarticulatory Vnasalization in Australian English (AusE) in CVN and NVC in comparison to those in American English (AmE). As in AmE, prominence was found to lengthen N, but to reduce V-nasalization, enhancing N’s nasality and V’s orality, respectively (paradigmatic contrast enhancement). But the prominence effect in CVN was more robust than that in AmE. Again similar to findings in AmE, boundary induced a reduction of N-duration and V-nasalization phrase-initially (syntagmatic contrast enhancement), and increased the nasality of both C and V phrasefinally. But AusE showed some differences in terms of the magnitude of V nasalization and N duration. The results suggest that the linguistic contrast enhancements underlie prosodic-structure modulation of coarticulatory V-nasalization in comparable ways across dialects, while the fine phonetic detail indicates that the phonetics-prosody interplay is internalized in the individual dialect’s phonetic grammar.
  • 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
  • Bock, K., Butterfield, S., Cutler, A., Cutting, J. C., Eberhard, K. M., & Humphreys, K. R. (2006). Number agreement in British and American English: Disagreeing to agree collectively. Language, 82(1), 64-113.

    Abstract

    British andAmerican speakers exhibit different verb number agreement patterns when sentence subjects have collective headnouns. From linguistic andpsycholinguistic accounts of how agreement is implemented, three alternative hypotheses can be derived to explain these differences. The hypotheses involve variations in the representation of notional number, disparities in how notional andgrammatical number are used, and inequalities in the grammatical number specifications of collective nouns. We carriedout a series of corpus analyses, production experiments, andnorming studies to test these hypotheses. The results converge to suggest that British and American speakers are equally sensitive to variations in notional number andimplement subjectverb agreement in much the same way, but are likely to differ in the lexical specifications of number for collectives. The findings support a psycholinguistic theory that explains verb and pronoun agreement within a parallel architecture of lexical andsyntactic formulation.
  • Cutler, A., Weber, A., & Otake, T. (2006). Asymmetric mapping from phonetic to lexical representations in second-language listening. Journal of Phonetics, 34(2), 269-284. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2005.06.002.

    Abstract

    The mapping of phonetic information to lexical representations in second-language (L2) listening was examined using an eyetracking paradigm. Japanese listeners followed instructions in English to click on pictures in a display. When instructed to click on a picture of a rocket, they experienced interference when a picture of a locker was present, that is, they tended to look at the locker instead. However, when instructed to click on the locker, they were unlikely to look at the rocket. This asymmetry is consistent with a similar asymmetry previously observed in Dutch listeners’ mapping of English vowel contrasts to lexical representations. The results suggest that L2 listeners may maintain a distinction between two phonetic categories of the L2 in their lexical representations, even though their phonetic processing is incapable of delivering the perceptual discrimination required for correct mapping to the lexical distinction. At the phonetic processing level, one of the L2 categories is dominant; the present results suggest that dominance is determined by acoustic–phonetic proximity to the nearest L1 category. At the lexical processing level, representations containing this dominant category are more likely than representations containing the non-dominant category to be correctly contacted by the phonetic input.
  • Cutler, A., Eisner, F., McQueen, J. M., & Norris, D. (2006). Coping with speaker-related variation via abstract phonemic categories. In Variation, detail and representation: 10th Conference on Laboratory Phonology (pp. 31-32).
  • Cutler, A., & Pasveer, D. (2006). Explaining cross-linguistic differences in effects of lexical stress on spoken-word recognition. In R. Hoffmann, & H. Mixdorff (Eds.), Speech Prosody 2006. Dresden: TUD press.

    Abstract

    Experiments have revealed differences across languages in listeners’ use of stress information in recognising spoken words. Previous comparisons of the vocabulary of Spanish and English had suggested that the explanation of this asymmetry might lie in the extent to which considering stress in spokenword recognition allows rejection of unwanted competition from words embedded in other words. This hypothesis was tested on the vocabularies of Dutch and German, for which word recognition results resemble those from Spanish more than those from English. The vocabulary statistics likewise revealed that in each language, the reduction of embeddings resulting from taking stress into account is more similar to the reduction achieved in Spanish than in English.
  • Cutler, A. (2006). Rudolf Meringer. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (vol. 8) (pp. 12-13). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

    Abstract

    Rudolf Meringer (1859–1931), Indo-European philologist, published two collections of slips of the tongue, annotated and interpreted. From 1909, he was the founding editor of the cultural morphology movement's journal Wörter und Sachen. Meringer was the first to note the linguistic significance of speech errors, and his interpretations have stood the test of time. This work, rather than his mainstream philological research, has proven his most lasting linguistic contribution
  • Cutler, A., Kim, J., & Otake, T. (2006). On the limits of L1 influence on non-L1 listening: Evidence from Japanese perception of Korean. In P. Warren, & C. I. Watson (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Australian International Conference on Speech Science & Technology (pp. 106-111).

    Abstract

    Language-specific procedures which are efficient for listening to the L1 may be applied to non-native spoken input, often to the detriment of successful listening. However, such misapplications of L1-based listening do not always happen. We propose, based on the results from two experiments in which Japanese listeners detected target sequences in spoken Korean, that an L1 procedure is only triggered if requisite L1 features are present in the input.
  • Cutler, A. (2006). Van spraak naar woorden in een tweede taal. In J. Morais, & G. d'Ydewalle (Eds.), Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition (pp. 39-54). Brussels: Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten.
  • Kuzla, C., Mitterer, H., Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Perceptual compensation for voice assimilation of German fricatives. In P. Warren, & I. Watson (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 394-399).

    Abstract

    In German, word-initial lax fricatives may be produced with substantially reduced glottal vibration after voiceless obstruents. This assimilation occurs more frequently and to a larger extent across prosodic word boundaries than across phrase boundaries. Assimilatory devoicing makes the fricatives more similar to their tense counterparts and could thus hinder word recognition. The present study investigates how listeners cope with assimilatory devoicing. Results of a cross-modal priming experiment indicate that listeners compensate for assimilation in appropriate contexts. Prosodic structure moderates compensation for assimilation: Compensation occurs especially after phrase boundaries, where devoiced fricatives are sufficiently long to be confused with their tense counterparts.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2006). Are there really interactive processes in speech perception? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(12), 533-533. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2006.10.004.
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2006). Phonological abstraction in the mental lexicon. Cognitive Science, 30(6), 1113-1126. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog0000_79.

    Abstract

    A perceptual learning experiment provides evidence that the mental lexicon cannot consist solely of detailed acoustic traces of recognition episodes. In a training lexical decision phase, listeners heard an ambiguous [f–s] fricative sound, replacing either [f] or [s] in words. In a test phase, listeners then made lexical decisions to visual targets following auditory primes. Critical materials were minimal pairs that could be a word with either [f] or [s] (cf. English knife–nice), none of which had been heard in training. Listeners interpreted the minimal pair words differently in the second phase according to the training received in the first phase. Therefore, lexically mediated retuning of phoneme perception not only influences categorical decisions about fricatives (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003), but also benefits recognition of words outside the training set. The observed generalization across words suggests that this retuning occurs prelexically. Therefore, lexical processing involves sublexical phonological abstraction, not only accumulation of acoustic episodes.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2006). The dynamic nature of speech perception. Language and Speech, 49(1), 101-112.

    Abstract

    The speech perception system must be flexible in responding to the variability in speech sounds caused by differences among speakers and by language change over the lifespan of the listener. Indeed, listeners use lexical knowledge to retune perception of novel speech (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003). In that study, Dutch listeners made lexical decisions to spoken stimuli, including words with an ambiguous fricative (between [f] and [s]), in either [f]- or [s]-biased lexical contexts. In a subsequent categorization test, the former group of listeners identified more sounds on an [εf] - [εs] continuum as [f] than the latter group. In the present experiment, listeners received the same exposure and test stimuli, but did not make lexical decisions to the exposure items. Instead, they counted them. Categorization results were indistinguishable from those obtained earlier. These adjustments in fricative perception therefore do not depend on explicit judgments during exposure. This learning effect thus reflects automatic retuning of the interpretation of acoustic-phonetic information.
  • Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2006). Speech perception. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (vol. 11) (pp. 770-782). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

    Abstract

    The goal of speech perception is understanding a speaker's message. To achieve this, listeners must recognize the words that comprise a spoken utterance. This in turn implies distinguishing these words from other minimally different words (e.g., word from bird, etc.), and this involves making phonemic distinctions. The article summarizes research on the perception of phonemic distinctions, on how listeners cope with the continuity and variability of speech signals, and on how phonemic information is mapped onto the representations of words. Particular attention is paid to theories of speech perception and word recognition.
  • Norris, D., Butterfield, S., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Lexically guided retuning of letter perception. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59(9), 1505-1515. doi:10.1080/17470210600739494.

    Abstract

    Participants made visual lexical decisions to upper-case words and nonwords, and then categorized an ambiguous N–H letter continuum. The lexical decision phase included different exposure conditions: Some participants saw an ambiguous letter “?”, midway between N and H, in N-biased lexical contexts (e.g., REIG?), plus words with unambiguousH(e.g., WEIGH); others saw the reverse (e.g., WEIG?, REIGN). The first group categorized more of the test continuum as N than did the second group. Control groups, who saw “?” in nonword contexts (e.g., SMIG?), plus either of the unambiguous word sets (e.g., WEIGH or REIGN), showed no such subsequent effects. Perceptual learning about ambiguous letters therefore appears to be based on lexical knowledge, just as in an analogous speech experiment (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003) which showed similar lexical influence in learning about ambiguous phonemes. We argue that lexically guided learning is an efficient general strategy available for exploitation by different specific perceptual tasks.
  • Norris, D., Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Butterfield, S. (2006). Phonological and conceptual activation in speech comprehension. Cognitive Psychology, 53(2), 146-193. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2006.03.001.

    Abstract

    We propose that speech comprehension involves the activation of token representations of the phonological forms of current lexical hypotheses, separately from the ongoing construction of a conceptual interpretation of the current utterance. In a series of cross-modal priming experiments, facilitation of lexical decision responses to visual target words (e.g., time) was found for targets that were semantic associates of auditory prime words (e.g., date) when the primes were isolated words, but not when the same primes appeared in sentence contexts. Identity priming (e.g., faster lexical decisions to visual date after spoken date than after an unrelated prime) appeared, however, both with isolated primes and with primes in prosodically neutral sentences. Associative priming in sentence contexts only emerged when sentence prosody involved contrastive accents, or when sentences were terminated immediately after the prime. Associative priming is therefore not an automatic consequence of speech processing. In no experiment was there associative priming from embedded words (e.g., sedate-time), but there was inhibitory identity priming (e.g., sedate-date) from embedded primes in sentence contexts. Speech comprehension therefore appears to involve separate distinct activation both of token phonological word representations and of conceptual word representations. Furthermore, both of these types of representation are distinct from the long-term memory representations of word form and meaning.
  • Shi, R., Cutler, A., Werker, J., & Cruickshank, M. (2006). Frequency and form as determinants of functor sensitivity in English-acquiring infants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119(6), EL61-EL67. doi:10.1121/1.2198947.

    Abstract

    High-frequency functors are arguably among the earliest perceived word forms and may assist extraction of initial vocabulary items. Canadian 11- and 8-month-olds were familiarized to pseudo-nouns following either a high-frequency functor the or a low-frequency functor her versus phonetically similar mispronunciations of each, kuh and ler, and then tested for recognition of the pseudo-nouns. A preceding the (but not kuh, her, ler)facilitated extraction of the pseudo-nouns for 11-month-olds; the is thus well-specified in form for these infants. However, both the and kuh (but not her-ler )f aciliated segmentation or 8-month-olds, suggesting an initial underspecified representation of high-frequency functors.
  • Shi, R., Werker, J. F., & Cutler, A. (2006). Recognition and representation of function words in English-learning infants. Infancy, 10(2), 187-198. doi:10.1207/s15327078in1002_5.

    Abstract

    We examined infants' recognition of functors and the accuracy of the representations that infants construct of the perceived word forms. Auditory stimuli were “Functor + Content Word” versus “Nonsense Functor + Content Word” sequences. Eight-, 11-, and 13-month-old infants heard both real functors and matched nonsense functors (prosodically analogous to their real counterparts but containing a segmental change). Results reveal that 13-month-olds recognized functors with attention to segmental detail. Eight-month-olds did not distinguish real versus nonsense functors. The performance of 11-month-olds fell in between that of the older and younger groups, consistent with an emerging recognition of real functors. The three age groups exhibited a clear developmental trend. We propose that in the earliest stages of vocabulary acquisition, function elements receive no segmentally detailed representations, but such representations are gradually constructed so that once vocabulary growth starts in earnest, fully specified functor representations are in place to support it.
  • Wagner, A., Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Formant transitions in fricative identification: The role of native fricative inventory. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 120(4), 2267-2277. doi:10.1121/1.2335422.

    Abstract

    The distribution of energy across the noise spectrum provides the primary cues for the identification of a fricative. Formant transitions have been reported to play a role in identification of some fricatives, but the combined results so far are conflicting. We report five experiments testing the hypothesis that listeners differ in their use of formant transitions as a function of the presence of spectrally similar fricatives in their native language. Dutch, English, German, Polish, and Spanish native listeners performed phoneme monitoring experiments with pseudowords containing either coherent or misleading formant transitions for the fricatives / s / and / f /. Listeners of German and Dutch, both languages without spectrally similar fricatives, were not affected by the misleading formant transitions. Listeners of the remaining languages were misled by incorrect formant transitions. In an untimed labeling experiment both Dutch and Spanish listeners provided goodness ratings that revealed sensitivity to the acoustic manipulation. We conclude that all listeners may be sensitive to mismatching information at a low auditory level, but that they do not necessarily take full advantage of all available systematic acoustic variation when identifying phonemes. Formant transitions may be most useful for listeners of languages with spectrally similar fricatives.
  • Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2006). First-language phonotactics in second-language listening. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119(1), 597-607. doi:10.1121/1.2141003.

    Abstract

    Highly proficient German users of English as a second language, and native speakers of American English, listened to nonsense sequences and responded whenever they detected an embedded English word. The responses of both groups were equivalently facilitated by preceding context that both by English and by German phonotactic constraints forced a boundary at word onset (e.g., lecture was easier to detect in moinlecture than in gorklecture, and wish in yarlwish than in plookwish. The American L1 speakers’ responses were strongly facilitated, and the German listeners’ responses almost as strongly facilitated, by contexts that forced a boundary in English but not in German thrarshlecture, glarshwish. The German listeners’ responses were significantly facilitated also by contexts that forced a boundary in German but not in English )moycelecture, loitwish, while L1 listeners were sensitive to acoustic boundary cues in these materials but not to the phonotactic sequences. The pattern of results suggests that proficient L2 listeners can acquire the phonotactic probabilities of an L2 and use them to good effect in segmenting continuous speech, but at the same time they may not be able to prevent interference from L1 constraints in their L2 listening.
  • Botelho da Silva, T., & Cutler, A. (1993). Ill-formedness and transformability in Portuguese idioms. In C. Cacciari, & P. Tabossi (Eds.), Idioms: Processing, structure and interpretation (pp. 129-143). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Cutler, A., Kearns, R., Norris, D., & Scott, D. R. (1993). Problems with click detection: Insights from cross-linguistic comparisons. Speech Communication, 13, 401-410. doi:10.1016/0167-6393(93)90038-M.

    Abstract

    Cross-linguistic comparisons may shed light on the levels of processing involved in the performance of psycholinguistic tasks. For instance, if the same pattern of results appears whether or not subjects understand the experimental materials, it may be concluded that the results do not reflect higher-level linguistic processing. In the present study, English and French listeners performed two tasks - click location and speeded click detection - with both English and French sentences, closely matched for syntactic and phonological structure. Clicks were located more accurately in open- than in closed-class words in both English and French; they were detected more rapidly in open- than in closed-class words in English, but not in French. The two listener groups produced the same pattern of responses, suggesting that higher-level linguistic processing was not involved in the listeners' responses. It is concluded that click detection tasks are primarily sensitive to low-level (e.g. acoustic) effects, and hence are not well suited to the investigation of linguistic processing.
  • Cutler, A. (1993). Segmentation problems, rhythmic solutions. Lingua, 92, 81-104. doi:10.1016/0024-3841(94)90338-7.

    Abstract

    The lexicon contains discrete entries, which must be located in speech input in order for speech to be understood; but the continuity of speech signals means that lexical access from spoken input involves a segmentation problem for listeners. The speech environment of prelinguistic infants may not provide special information to assist the infant listeners in solving this problem. Mature language users in possession of a lexicon might be thought to be able to avoid explicit segmentation of speech by relying on information from successful lexical access; however, evidence from adult perceptual studies indicates that listeners do use explicit segmentation procedures. These procedures differ across languages and seem to exploit language-specific rhythmic structure. Efficient as these procedures are, they may not have been developed in response to statistical properties of the input, because bilinguals, equally competent in two languages, apparently only possess one rhythmic segmentation procedure. The origin of rhythmic segmentation may therefore lie in the infant's exploitation of rhythm to solve the segmentation problem and gain a first toehold on lexical acquisition. Recent evidence from speech production and perception studies with prelinguistic infants supports the claim that infants are sensitive to rhythmic structure and its relationship to lexical segmentation.
  • Cutler, A. (1993). Segmenting speech in different languages. The Psychologist, 6(10), 453-455.
  • Cutler, A. (1993). Language-specific processing: Does the evidence converge? In G. T. Altmann, & R. C. Shillcock (Eds.), Cognitive models of speech processing: The Sperlonga Meeting II (pp. 115-123). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Cutler, A. (1993). Phonological cues to open- and closed-class words in the processing of spoken sentences. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 22, 109-131.

    Abstract

    Evidence is presented that (a) the open and the closed word classes in English have different phonological characteristics, (b) the phonological dimension on which they differ is one to which listeners are highly sensitive, and (c) spoken open- and closed-class words produce different patterns of results in some auditory recognition tasks. What implications might link these findings? Two recent lines of evidence from disparate paradigms—the learning of an artificial language, and natural and experimentally induced misperception of juncture—are summarized, both of which suggest that listeners are sensitive to the phonological reflections of open- vs. closed-class word status. Although these correlates cannot be strictly necessary for efficient processing, if they are present listeners exploit them in making word class assignments. That such a use of phonological information is of value to listeners could be indirect evidence that open- vs. closed-class words undergo different processing operations. Parts of the research reported in this paper were carried out in collaboration with Sally Butterfield and David Carter, and supported by the Alvey Directorate (United Kingdom). Jonathan Stankler's master's research was supported by the Science and Engineering Research Council (United Kingdom). Thanks to all of the above, and to Merrill Garrett, Mike Kelly, James McQueen, and Dennis Norris for further assistance.
  • Cutler, A., & Mehler, J. (1993). The periodicity bias. Journal of Phonetics, 21, 101-108.
  • Jusczyk, P. W., Cutler, A., & Redanz, N. J. (1993). Infants’ preference for the predominant stress patterns of English words. Child Development, 64, 675-687. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131210.

    Abstract

    One critical aspect of language acquisition is the development of a lexicon that associates sounds and meanings; but developing a lexicon first requires that the infant segment utterances into individual words. How might the infant begin this process? The present study was designed to examine the potential role that sensitivity to predominant stress patterns of words might play in lexical development. In English, by far the majority of words have stressed (strong) initial syllables. Experiment 1 of our study demonstrated that by 9 months of age American infants listen significantly longer to words with strong/weak stress patterns than to words with weak/strong stress patterns. However, Experiment 2 showed that no significant preferences for the predominant stress pattern appear with 6-month-old infants, which suggests that the preference develops as a result of increasing familiarity with the prosodic features of the native language. In a third experiment, 9-month-olds showed a preference for strong/weak patterns even when the speech input was low-pass filtered, which suggests that their preference is specifically for the prosodic structure of the words. Together the results suggest that attention to predominant stress patterns in the native language may form an important part of the infant's process of developing a lexicon.
  • Nix, A. J., Mehta, G., Dye, J., & Cutler, A. (1993). Phoneme detection as a tool for comparing perception of natural and synthetic speech. Computer Speech and Language, 7, 211-228. doi:10.1006/csla.1993.1011.

    Abstract

    On simple intelligibility measures, high-quality synthesiser output now scores almost as well as natural speech. Nevertheless, it is widely agreed that perception of synthetic speech is a harder task for listeners than perception of natural speech; in particular, it has been hypothesized that listeners have difficulty identifying phonemes in synthetic speech. If so, a simple measure of the speed with which a phoneme can be identified should prove a useful tool for comparing perception of synthetic and natural speech. The phoneme detection task was here used in three experiments comparing perception of natural and synthetic speech. In the first, response times to synthetic and natural targets were not significantly different, but in the second and third experiments response times to synthetic targets were significantly slower than to natural targets. A speed-accuracy tradeoff in the third experiment suggests that an important factor in this task is the response criterion adopted by subjects. It is concluded that the phoneme detection task is a useful tool for investigating phonetic processing of synthetic speech input, but subjects must be encouraged to adopt a response criterion which emphasizes rapid responding. When this is the case, significantly longer response times for synthetic targets can indicate a processing disadvantage for synthetic speech at an early level of phonetic analysis.
  • Otake, T., Hatano, G., Cutler, A., & Mehler, J. (1993). Mora or syllable? Speech segmentation in Japanese. Journal of Memory and Language, 32, 258-278. doi:10.1006/jmla.1993.1014.

    Abstract

    Four experiments examined segmentation of spoken Japanese words by native and non-native listeners. Previous studies suggested that language rhythm determines the segmentation unit most natural to native listeners: French has syllabic rhythm, and French listeners use the syllable in segmentation, while English has stress rhythm, and segmentation by English listeners is based on stress. The rhythm of Japanese is based on a subsyllabic unit, the mora. In the present experiments Japanese listeners′ response patterns were consistent with moraic segmentation; acoustic artifacts could not have determined the results since nonnative (English and French) listeners showed different response patterns with the same materials. Predictions of a syllabic hypothesis were disconfirmed in the Japanese listeners′ results; in contrast, French listeners showed a pattern of responses consistent with the syllabic hypothesis. The results provide further evidence that listeners′ segmentation of spoken words relies on procedures determined by the characteristic phonology of their native language.
  • Van Ooijen, B., Cutler, A., & Berinetto, P. M. (1993). Click detection in Italian and English. In Eurospeech 93: Vol. 1 (pp. 681-684). Berlin: ESCA.

    Abstract

    We report four experiments in which English and Italian monolinguals detected clicks in continous speech in their native language. Two of the experiments used an off-line location task, and two used an on-line reaction time task. Despite there being large differences between English and Italian with respect to rhythmic characteristics, very similar response patterns were found for the two language groups. It is concluded that the process of click detection operates independently from language-specific differences in perceptual processing at the sublexical level.
  • Young, D., Altmann, G. T., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1993). Metrical structure and the perception of time-compressed speech. In Eurospeech 93: Vol. 2 (pp. 771-774).

    Abstract

    In the absence of explicitly marked cues to word boundaries, listeners tend to segment spoken English at the onset of strong syllables. This may suggest that under difficult listening conditions, speech should be easier to recognize where strong syllables are word-initial. We report two experiments in which listeners were presented with sentences which had been time-compressed to make listening difficult. The first study contrasted sentences in which all content words began with strong syllables with sentences in which all content words began with weak syllables. The intelligibility of the two groups of sentences did not differ significantly. Apparent rhythmic effects in the results prompted a second experiment; however, no significant effects of systematic rhythmic manipulation were observed. In both experiments, the strongest predictor of intelligibility was the rated plausibility of the sentences. We conclude that listeners' recognition responses to time-compressed speech may be strongly subject to experiential bias; effects of rhythmic structure are most likely to show up also as bias effects.

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