12th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Florence, Italy
August 27-31. 2011

Optimal Syllabic Rates and Processing Units in Perceiving Mandarin Spoken Sentences

Guangting Mai, Gang Peng

Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

This paper presents our investigations on the syllable-related processing during human perception of Mandarin spoken sentences. Two behavioral perception experiments were conducted employing a signal synthesis method in a previous study [1]. We found (1) a clear relationship between speech intelligibility and syllabic rates of spoken sentences and (2) significantly higher speech intelligibility of sentences acoustically segmented at sub-syllable and syllable levels than at the level beyond one syllable. We therefore revealed the optimal syllabic rates and processing units in perceiving Mandarin continuous speech and further discussed the association between our results and the possible underlying neural mechanisms in the human brain.


  1. Ghitza, O. and Greenberg, S., “On the possible role of brain rhythms in speech perception: intelligibility of time-compressed speech with periodic and aperiodic insertions of silence”, Phonetica, 66: 113–126, 2009.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mai, Guangting / Peng, Gang (2011): "Optimal syllabic rates and processing units in perceiving Mandarin spoken sentences", In INTERSPEECH-2011, 2477-2480.