Clear Speech — Mere Speech? How Segmental and Prosodic Speech Reduction Shape the Impression That Speakers Create on Listeners

Oliver Niebuhr


Research on speech reduction is primarily concerned with analyzing, modeling, explaining, and, ultimately, predicting phonetic variation. That is, the focus is on the speech signal itself. The present paper adds a little side note to this fundamental line of research by addressing the question whether variation in the degree of reduction also has a systematic effect on the attributes we ascribe to the speaker who produces the speech signal. A perception experiment was carried out for German in which 46 listeners judged whether or not speakers showing 3 different combinations of segmental and prosodic reduction levels (unreduced, moderately reduced, strongly reduced) are appropriately described by 13 physical, social, and cognitive attributes. The experiment shows that clear speech is not mere speech, and less clear speech is not just reduced either. Rather, results revealed a complex interplay of reduction levels and perceived speaker attributes in which moderate reduction can make a better impression on listeners than no reduction. In addition to its relevance in reduction models and theories, this interplay is instructive for various fields of speech application from social robotics to charisma coaching.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-28

Cite as: Niebuhr, O. (2017) Clear Speech — Mere Speech? How Segmental and Prosodic Speech Reduction Shape the Impression That Speakers Create on Listeners. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 894-898, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-28.


@inproceedings{Niebuhr2017,
  author={Oliver Niebuhr},
  title={Clear Speech — Mere Speech? How Segmental and Prosodic Speech Reduction Shape the Impression That Speakers Create on Listeners},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={894--898},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-28},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-28}
}