ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022
ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022

Temporal expectations and the interpretation of timing cues to word boundaries

Laurence White, Sven Mattys, Sarah Knight, Tess Saunders, Laura Macbeath

In many languages, speech sounds adjacent to prosodic boundaries are lengthened. Moreover, listeners – particularly learners – exploit word-initial consonant lengthening to locate word boundaries, whilst phrase-final lengthening indicates upcoming prosodic breaks and conversational transitions. How lengthening is detected in the temporally-linear speech stream remains unclear, however. We investigated listeners’ possible use of predictive mechanisms to generate hypotheses about upcoming segment durations and thereby interpret deviations from temporal expectations (specifically, lengthening) as linguistically meaningful. In novel nonword segmentation experiments, listeners heard 90 twelve-syllable nonsense streams, with – on half the trials – trisyllabic nonword targets embedded (e.g., dumipako*libeku*binudafolu). Segment duration was systematically varied. On the 45 target-present trials, targets were early, medial or late in the nonsense stream (but at least two syllables from utterance edges). Listeners had to respond quickly and accurately when detecting targets. As expected, target-initial consonant lengthening boosted detection, but this was strongly conditioned by target location within utterances. Specifically, differential effects of timing on detection were much stronger for utterance-late targets than utterance-medially (with uniformly poor utterance-early performance). We explore the factors contributing to this (initially unexpected) pattern, in particular, the hypothesis that predictions about segment duration rely on sufficient experience of foregoing speech rate.

doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-66

Cite as: White, L., Mattys, S., Knight, S., Saunders, T., Macbeath, L. (2022) Temporal expectations and the interpretation of timing cues to word boundaries. Proc. Speech Prosody 2022, 322-326, doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-66

  author={Laurence White and Sven Mattys and Sarah Knight and Tess Saunders and Laura Macbeath},
  title={{ Temporal expectations and the interpretation of timing cues to word boundaries}},
  booktitle={Proc. Speech Prosody 2022},