5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Evidence for Early Effects of Sentence Context on Word Segmentation

Saskia te Riele, Hugo Quene

Utrecht University, UiL-OTS, The Netherlands

The present paper focuses on the segmentation of two-word phrases containing two closely competing lexical hypotheses. It is hypothesized that the bottom-up information, which also includes a mechanism called the Possible-Word Constraint, is explored first in segmenting these phrases. Non-sensory sentential information influences this process at a later stage and only shows an effect if the bottom-up information does not lead to one dominating interpretation. The results of the present experiment show that beside the acoustic information listeners can and do use contextual information at a relatively early moment, at which the two possible segmentations are both still active and the bottom-up information has not yet suppressed the acoustically inconsistent interpretation. This effect became apparent, since disambiguating bottom-up information arrived relatively late in the stimulus phrases. Hence, it was concluded that both sensory and non-sensory information are employed to affect activation levels of competing lexical hypotheses at an early moment.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Riele, Saskia te / Quene, Hugo (1998): "Evidence for early effects of sentence context on word segmentation", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0326.