Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 13 of 13
  • Burchfield, L. A., Luk, S.-.-H.-K., Antoniou, M., & Cutler, A. (2017). Lexically guided perceptual learning in Mandarin Chinese. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 576-580). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-618.

    Abstract

    Lexically guided perceptual learni ng refers to the use of lexical knowledge to retune sp eech categories and thereby adapt to a novel talker’s pronunciation. This adaptation has been extensively documented, but primarily for segmental-based learning in English and Dutch. In languages with lexical tone, such as Mandarin Chinese, tonal categories can also be retuned in this way, but segmental category retuning had not been studied. We report two experiment s in which Mandarin Chinese listeners were exposed to an ambiguous mixture of [f] and [s] in lexical contexts favoring an interpretation as either [f] or [s]. Listeners were subsequently more likely to identify sounds along a continuum between [f] and [s], and to interpret minimal word pairs, in a manner consistent with this exposure. Thus lexically guided perceptual learning of segmental categories had indeed taken place, consistent with suggestions that such learning may be a universally available adaptation process
  • Choi, J., Cutler, A., & Broersma, M. (2017). Early development of abstract language knowledge: Evidence from perception-production transfer of birth-language memory. Royal Society Open Science, 4: 160660. doi:10.1098/rsos.160660.

    Abstract

    Children adopted early in life into another linguistic community typically forget their birth language but retain, unaware, relevant linguistic knowledge that may facilitate (re)learning of birth-language patterns. Understanding the nature of this knowledge can shed light on how language is acquired. Here, international adoptees from Korea with Dutch as their current language, and matched Dutch-native controls, provided speech production data on a Korean consonantal distinction unlike any Dutch distinctions, at the outset and end of an intensive perceptual training. The productions, elicited in a repetition task, were identified and rated by Korean listeners. Adoptees' production scores improved significantly more across the training period than control participants' scores, and, for adoptees only, relative production success correlated significantly with the rate of learning in perception (which had, as predicted, also surpassed that of the controls). Of the adoptee group, half had been adopted at 17 months or older (when talking would have begun), while half had been prelinguistic (under six months). The former group, with production experience, showed no advantage over the group without. Thus the adoptees' retained knowledge of Korean transferred from perception to production and appears to be abstract in nature rather than dependent on the amount of experience.
  • Choi, J., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2017). Early phonology revealed by international adoptees' birth language retention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(28), 7307-7312. doi:10.1073/pnas.1706405114.

    Abstract

    Until at least 6 mo of age, infants show good discrimination for familiar phonetic contrasts (i.e., those heard in the environmental language) and contrasts that are unfamiliar. Adult-like discrimination (significantly worse for nonnative than for native contrasts) appears only later, by 9–10 mo. This has been interpreted as indicating that infants have no knowledge of phonology until vocabulary development begins, after 6 mo of age. Recently, however, word recognition has been observed before age 6 mo, apparently decoupling the vocabulary and phonology acquisition processes. Here we show that phonological acquisition is also in progress before 6 mo of age. The evidence comes from retention of birth-language knowledge in international adoptees. In the largest ever such study, we recruited 29 adult Dutch speakers who had been adopted from Korea when young and had no conscious knowledge of Korean language at all. Half were adopted at age 3–5 mo (before native-specific discrimination develops) and half at 17 mo or older (after word learning has begun). In a short intensive training program, we observe that adoptees (compared with 29 matched controls) more rapidly learn tripartite Korean consonant distinctions without counterparts in their later-acquired Dutch, suggesting that the adoptees retained phonological knowledge about the Korean distinction. The advantage is equivalent for the younger-adopted and the older-adopted groups, and both groups not only acquire the tripartite distinction for the trained consonants but also generalize it to untrained consonants. Although infants younger than 6 mo can still discriminate unfamiliar phonetic distinctions, this finding indicates that native-language phonological knowledge is nonetheless being acquired at that age.
  • Cutler, A. (2017). Converging evidence for abstract phonological knowledge in speech processing. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2017) (pp. 1447-1448). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    The perceptual processing of speech is a constant interplay of multiple competing albeit convergent processes: acoustic input vs. higher-level representations, universal mechanisms vs. language-specific, veridical traces of speech experience vs. construction and activation of abstract representations. The present summary concerns the third of these issues. The ability to generalise across experience and to deal with resulting abstractions is the hallmark of human cognition, visible even in early infancy. In speech processing, abstract representations play a necessary role in both production and perception. New sorts of evidence are now informing our understanding of the breadth of this role.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2017). Intonation facilitates prediction of focus even in the presence of lexical tones. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 1218-1222). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2017-264.

    Abstract

    In English and Dutch, listeners entrain to prosodic contours to predict where focus will fall in an utterance. However, is this strategy universally available, even in languages with different phonological systems? In a phoneme detection experiment, we examined whether prosodic entrainment is also found in Mandarin Chinese, a tone language, where in principle the use of pitch for lexical identity may take precedence over the use of pitch cues to salience. Consistent with the results from Germanic languages, response times were facilitated when preceding intonation predicted accent on the target-bearing word. Acoustic analyses revealed greater F0 range in the preceding intonation of the predicted-accent sentences. These findings have implications for how universal and language-specific mechanisms interact in the processing of salience.
  • Goudbeek, M., Smits, R., Cutler, A., & Swingley, D. (2017). Auditory and phonetic category formation. In H. Cohen, & C. Lefebvre (Eds.), Handbook of categorization in cognitive science (2nd revised ed.) (pp. 687-708). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Kember, H., Grohe, A.-.-K., Zahner, K., Braun, B., Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2017). Similar prosodic structure perceived differently in German and English. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2017 (pp. 1388-1392).

    Abstract

    English and German have similar prosody, but their speakers realize some pitch falls (not rises) in subtly different ways. We here test for asymmetry in perception. An ABX discrimination task requiring F0 slope or duration judgements on isolated vowels revealed no cross-language difference in duration or F0 fall discrimination, but discrimination of rises (realized similarly in each language) was less accurate for English than for German listeners. This unexpected finding may reflect greater sensitivity to rising patterns by German listeners, or reduced sensitivity by English listeners as a result of extensive exposure to phrase-final rises (“uptalk”) in their language
  • Warner, N., & Cutler, A. (2017). Stress effects in vowel perception as a function of language-specific vocabulary patterns. Phonetica, 74, 81-106. doi:10.1159/000447428.

    Abstract

    Background/Aims: Evidence from spoken word recognition suggests that for English listeners, distinguishing full versus reduced vowels is important, but discerning stress differences involving the same full vowel (as in mu- from music or museum) is not. In Dutch, in contrast, the latter distinction is important. This difference arises from the relative frequency of unstressed full vowels in the two vocabularies. The goal of this paper is to determine how this difference in the lexicon influences the perception of stressed versus unstressed vowels. Methods: All possible sequences of two segments (diphones) in Dutch and in English were presented to native listeners in gated fragments. We recorded identification performance over time throughout the speech signal. The data were here analysed specifically for patterns in perception of stressed versus unstressed vowels. Results: The data reveal significantly larger stress effects (whereby unstressed vowels are harder to identify than stressed vowels) in English than in Dutch. Both language-specific and shared patterns appear regarding which vowels show stress effects. Conclusion: We explain the larger stress effect in English as reflecting the processing demands caused by the difference in use of unstressed vowels in the lexicon. The larger stress effect in English is due to relative inexperience with processing unstressed full vowels
  • Cutler, A., & Bruggeman, L. (2013). Vocabulary structure and spoken-word recognition: Evidence from French reveals the source of embedding asymmetry. In Proceedings of INTERSPEECH: 14th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (pp. 2812-2816).

    Abstract

    Vocabularies contain hundreds of thousands of words built from only a handful of phonemes, so that inevitably longer words tend to contain shorter ones. In many languages (but not all) such embedded words occur more often word-initially than word-finally, and this asymmetry, if present, has farreaching consequences for spoken-word recognition. Prior research had ascribed the asymmetry to suffixing or to effects of stress (in particular, final syllables containing the vowel schwa). Analyses of the standard French vocabulary here reveal an effect of suffixing, as predicted by this account, and further analyses of an artificial variety of French reveal that extensive final schwa has an independent and additive effect in promoting the embedding asymmetry.
  • Johnson, E. K., Lahey, M., Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2013). A multimodal corpus of speech to infant and adult listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134, EL534-EL540. doi:10.1121/1.4828977.

    Abstract

    An audio and video corpus of speech addressed to 28 11-month-olds is described. The corpus allows comparisons between adult speech directed towards infants, familiar adults and unfamiliar adult addressees, as well as of caregivers’ word teaching strategies across word classes. Summary data show that infant-directed speech differed more from speech to unfamiliar than familiar adults; that word teaching strategies for nominals versus verbs and adjectives differed; that mothers mostly addressed infants with multi-word utterances; and that infants’ vocabulary size was unrelated to speech rate, but correlated positively with predominance of continuous caregiver speech (not of isolated words) in the input.
  • Kooijman, V., Junge, C., Johnson, E. K., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2013). Predictive brain signals of linguistic development. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 25. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00025.

    Abstract

    The ability to extract word forms from continuous speech is a prerequisite for constructing a vocabulary and emerges in the first year of life. Electrophysiological (ERP) studies of speech segmentation by 9- to 12-month-old listeners in several languages have found a left-localized negativity linked to word onset as a marker of word detection. We report an ERP study showing significant evidence of speech segmentation in Dutch-learning 7-month-olds. In contrast to the left-localized negative effect reported with older infants, the observed overall mean effect had a positive polarity. Inspection of individual results revealed two participant sub-groups: a majority showing a positive-going response, and a minority showing the left negativity observed in older age groups. We retested participants at age three, on vocabulary comprehension and word and sentence production. On every test, children who at 7 months had shown the negativity associated with segmentation of words from speech outperformed those who had produced positive-going brain responses to the same input. The earlier that infants show the left-localized brain responses typically indicating detection of words in speech, the better their early childhood language skills.
  • Otake, T., & Cutler, A. (2013). Lexical selection in action: Evidence from spontaneous punning. Language and Speech, 56(4), 555-573. doi:10.1177/0023830913478933.

    Abstract

    Analysis of a corpus of spontaneously produced Japanese puns from a single speaker over a two-year period provides a view of how a punster selects a source word for a pun and transforms it into another word for humorous effect. The pun-making process is driven by a principle of similarity: the source word should as far as possible be preserved (in terms of segmental sequence) in the pun. This renders homophones (English example: band–banned) the pun type of choice, with part–whole relationships of embedding (cap–capture), and mutations of the source word (peas–bees) rather less favored. Similarity also governs mutations in that single-phoneme substitutions outnumber larger changes, and in phoneme substitutions, subphonemic features tend to be preserved. The process of spontaneous punning thus applies, on line, the same similarity criteria as govern explicit similarity judgments and offline decisions about pun success (e.g., for inclusion in published collections). Finally, the process of spoken-word recognition is word-play-friendly in that it involves multiple word-form activation and competition, which, coupled with known techniques in use in difficult listening conditions, enables listeners to generate most pun types as offshoots of normal listening procedures.
  • Van der Zande, P., Jesse, A., & Cutler, A. (2013). Lexically guided retuning of visual phonetic categories. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134, 562-571. doi:10.1121/1.4807814.

    Abstract

    Listeners retune the boundaries between phonetic categories to adjust to individual speakers' productions. Lexical information, for example, indicates what an unusual sound is supposed to be, and boundary retuning then enables the speaker's sound to be included in the appropriate auditory phonetic category. In this study, it was investigated whether lexical knowledge that is known to guide the retuning of auditory phonetic categories, can also retune visual phonetic categories. In Experiment 1, exposure to a visual idiosyncrasy in ambiguous audiovisually presented target words in a lexical decision task indeed resulted in retuning of the visual category boundary based on the disambiguating lexical context. In Experiment 2 it was tested whether lexical information retunes visual categories directly, or indirectly through the generalization from retuned auditory phonetic categories. Here, participants were exposed to auditory-only versions of the same ambiguous target words as in Experiment 1. Auditory phonetic categories were retuned by lexical knowledge, but no shifts were observed for the visual phonetic categories. Lexical knowledge can therefore guide retuning of visual phonetic categories, but lexically guided retuning of auditory phonetic categories is not generalized to visual categories. Rather, listeners adjust auditory and visual phonetic categories to talker idiosyncrasies separately.

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