14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

Language Background Affects the Strength of the Pitch Bias in a Duration Discrimination Task

Daniel Aalto (1), Juraj Šimko (2), Martti Vainio (1)

(1) University of Helsinki, Finland
(2) Universität Bielefeld, Germany

The fundamental frequency of a complex sound modulates the perceived duration of a sound. Higher pitch sounds are perceived longer compared to lower pitch sounds as shown by several independent studies since 1973. In this paper, the effect of language background is studied: native speakers of Finnish and German participated in a two alternative forced choice duration discrimination experiment where the duration and frequency of two sounds are randomly varied. The overall duration discrimination sensitivity was similar to both groups but the speakers of Finnish were influenced more by the pitch in their judgements. In addition, the difference in the two sounds' pitch period explained the response data better than the difference in pitch frequencies or the pitch interval. As the Finnish quantity system is known to employ both duration and pitch cues, the present results suggest that the speakers are shaped by the language environment even when the task is purely non-linguistic.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Aalto, Daniel / Šimko, Juraj / Vainio, Martti (2013): "Language background affects the strength of the pitch bias in a duration discrimination task", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 243-247.