8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Antwerp, Belgium
August 27-31, 2007

Perception of Disfluency: Language Differences and Listener Bias

Catherine Lai, Kyle Gorman, Jiahong Yuan, Mark Liberman

University of Pennsylvania, USA

This paper describes a crosslinguistic disfluency perception experiment. We tested the recognizability of pause fillers and partial words in English, German and Mandarin. Subjects were speakers of English with no knowledge of Mandarin or German. We found that subjects could identify disfluent from fluent utterances at a level above chance. Pause fillers were easier to identify than partial words. Accuracy rates were highest for English, followed by German and then Mandarin. Although German accuracy rates were higher than those for Mandarin, discriminability analysis suggests that this is due to conservative bias towards false negatives rather than non-recognition of the acoustic material. The fact that subjects could identify disfluent speech in languages they did not know shows that there are real phonetic crosslinguistic cues to disfluency.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lai, Catherine / Gorman, Kyle / Yuan, Jiahong / Liberman, Mark (2007): "Perception of disfluency: language differences and listener bias", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 2345-2348.