Prosodically driven phonetic detail in speech processing: The case of domain-initial strengthening in English
Cho, T., McQueen, J. M., & Cox, E. A.
Prosodically driven phonetic detail in speech processing: The case of domain-initial strengthening in English. Journal of Phonetics, 35
(2), 210-243. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2006.03.003.
We explore the role of the acoustic consequences of domain-initial strengthening in spoken-word recognition. In two cross-modal identity-priming experiments, listeners heard sentences and made lexical decisions to visual targets, presented at the onset of the second word in two-word sequences containing lexical ambiguities (e.g., bus tickets, with the competitor bust). These sequences contained Intonational Phrase (IP) or Prosodic Word (Wd) boundaries, and the second word's initial Consonant and Vowel (CV, e.g., [tI]) was spliced from another token of the sequence in IP- or Wd-initial position. Acoustic analyses showed that IP-initial consonants were articulated more strongly than Wd-initial consonants. In Experiment 1, related targets were post-boundary words (e.g., tickets). No strengthening effect was observed (i.e., identity priming effects did not vary across splicing conditions). In Experiment 2, related targets were pre-boundary words (e.g., bus). There was a strengthening effect (stronger priming when the post-boundary CVs were spliced from IP-initial than from Wd-initial position), but only in Wd-boundary contexts. These were the conditions where phonetic detail associated with domain-initial strengthening could assist listeners most in lexical disambiguation. We discuss how speakers may strengthen domain-initial segments during production and how listeners may use the resulting acoustic correlates of prosodic strengthening during word recognition.