Effects of rhetorical stress on item and content recall in Spanish

Christopher Eager, José Ignacio Hualde, Jennifer Cole

A common feature of Spanish public speech is the frequent use of rhetorical stress (RS), marked by a high pitch accent on a lexically unstressed syllable. The expanded pitch range and enhanced rhythmicity of RS suggests it may serve to attract listeners’ attention. We look for evidence that RS facilitates speech comprehension by testing recall of information in heard passages with and without RS. 30 Spanish speakers listened to 20 short radio news passages from the Glissando corpus, with an average 7.5 words with RS. In half of the passages F0 contours were digitally manipulated to remove the RS pitch movement. After listening to each passage, participants wrote down everything they could remember. Responses were coded by two judges who assigned 2 points for each content word recalled verbatim, and 1 point for words recalled using a semantically related word.Regression results show significant effect of passage length on recall, but no significant effect of RS. Exploratory analysis of individual recall scores reveals the predicted effect of RS on recall accuracy, but only for those participants with overall lower recall accuracy. Further modeling and follow-up experiments will explore the effect of marked accent patterns on spoken language comprehension.

Cite as

Eager, C., Hualde, J.I., Cole, J. (2016) Effects of rhetorical stress on item and content recall in Spanish. Proc. Speech Prosody 2016, (abstract).

author={Christopher Eager and José Ignacio Hualde and Jennifer Cole},
title={Effects of rhetorical stress on item and content recall in Spanish},
booktitle={Speech Prosody 2016}