Third European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology

Berlin, Germany
September 22-25, 1993


Metrical Structure and the Perception of Time-Compressed Speech

Duncan Young (1), Gerry T. M. Altmann (1), Anne Cutler (2), Dennis Norris (2)

(1) Experimental Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, England
(2) MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, England

In the absence of explicitly marked cues to word boundaries, listeners tend to segment spoken English at the onset of strong syllables. This may suggest that under difficult listening conditions, speech should be easier to recognise where strong syllables are word-initial. We report two experiments in which listeners were presented with sentences which had been time-compressed to make listening difficult. The first study contrasted sentences in which all content words began with strong syllables with sentences in which all content words began with weak syllables. The intelligibility of the two groups of sentences did not differ significantly. Apparent rhythmic effects in the results prompted a second experiment; however, no significant effects of systematic rhythmic manipulation were observed. In both experiments, the strongest predictor of intelligibility was the rated plausibility of the sentences. We conclude that listeners' recognition responses to time-compressed speech may be strongly subject to experiential bias; effects of rhythmic structure are most likely to show up also as bias effects.

Keywords: compressed speech, rhythm, plausibility.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Young, Duncan / Altmann, Gerry T. M. / Cutler, Anne / Norris, Dennis (1993): "Metrical structure and the perception of time-compressed speech", In EUROSPEECH'93, 771-774.