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Language and Speech

Tessa Bent, Rachael Frush Holt
Children's ability to understand speakers with a wide range of dialects and accents is essential for efficient language development and communication in a global society. Here, the impact of regional dialect and foreign-accent variability on children's speech understanding was evaluated in both quiet and noisy conditions. Five- to seven-year-old children ( n = 90) and adults ( n = 96) repeated sentences produced by three speakers with different accents-American English, British English, and Japanese-accented English-in quiet or noisy conditions...
February 1, 2018: Language and Speech
Zohreh Shiamizadeh, Johanneke Caspers, Niels O Schiller
It has been shown that prosody contributes to the contrast between declarativity and interrogativity, notably in interrogative utterances lacking lexico-syntactic features of interrogativity. Accordingly, it may be proposed that prosody plays a role in marking wh-in-situ questions in which the interrogativity feature (the wh-phrase) does not move to sentence-initial position, as, for example, in Persian. This paper examines whether prosody distinguishes Persian wh-in-situ questions from declaratives in the absence of the interrogativity feature in the sentence-initial position...
February 1, 2018: Language and Speech
Margaret E L Renwick, Marianna Nadeu
Catalan, like other Romance languages, has two pairs of phonemic mid vowels (/be/ "well" vs. /bɛ/ "lamb"; /os/ "bear" vs. /ɔs/ "bone"). However, these contrasts do not function like others in the language: they are partially phonologically conditioned, and evidence shows that words may be pronounced with different mid vowels by speakers of the same variety or even by the same speaker. Spanish may influence this instability, as first-language Spanish Catalan-Spanish bilinguals struggle to perceive and produce the contrast...
January 1, 2018: Language and Speech
Benjamin Lang, Lisa Davidson
Recent work by Chang has shown that even at the very earliest stages of second language (L2) acquisition, the phonetic implementation of speakers' native English phoneme categories is slightly modified by contact with L2 Korean, which is referred to as "phonetic drift." This study investigates whether rapid phonetic drift generalizes to another pairing of languages. We examined naïve American English learners of French, who were recorded producing both American English and French vowels after one and six weeks of a study abroad program in Paris...
December 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Constantijn Kaland, Vincenzo Galatà, Lorenzo Spreafico, Alessandro Vietti
Across languages of the world the /r/ sound is known for its variability. This variability has been investigated using articulatory models as well as in sociolinguistic studies. The current study investigates to what extent /r/ is a marker of a bilingual's dominant language. To this end, a reading task was carried out by bilingual speakers from South Tyrol, who produce /r/ differently according to whether they dominantly speak Tyrolean or Italian. The recorded reading data were subsequently used in a perception experiment to investigate whether South Tyrolean bilingual listeners are able to identify the dominant language of the speaker...
December 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Ulrike Willinger, Matthias Deckert, Michaela Schmöger, Ines Schaunig-Busch, Anton K Formann, Eduard Auff
PURPOSE: Metaphor is a specific type of figurative language that is used in various important fields such as in the work with children in clinical or teaching contexts. The aim of the study was to investigate the developmental course, developmental steps, and possible cognitive predictors regarding metaphor processing in childhood and early adolescence. METHOD: One hundred sixty-four typically developing children (7-year-olds, 9-year-olds) and early adolescents (11-year-olds) were tested for metaphor identification, comprehension, comprehension quality, and preference by the Metaphoric Triads Task as well as for analogical reasoning, information processing speed, cognitive flexibility under time pressure, and cognitive flexibility without time pressure...
December 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Charlotte R Vaughn, Ann R Bradlow
While indexical information is implicated in many levels of language processing, little is known about the internal structure of the system of indexical dimensions, particularly in bilinguals. A series of three experiments using the speeded classification paradigm investigated the relationship between various indexical and non-linguistic dimensions of speech in processing. Namely, we compared the relationship between a lesser-studied indexical dimension relevant to bilinguals, which language is being spoken (in these experiments, either Mandarin Chinese or English), with: talker identity (Experiment 1), talker gender (Experiment 2), and amplitude of speech (Experiment 3)...
December 2017: Language and Speech
Biao Zeng, Sven L Mattys
This study used the perceptual-migration paradigm to explore whether Mandarin tones and syllable rhymes are processed separately during Mandarin speech perception. Following the logic of illusory conjunctions, we calculated the cross-ear migration of tones, rhymes, and their combination in Chinese and English listeners. For Chinese listeners, tones migrated more than rhymes. For English listeners, the opposite pattern was found. The results lend empirical support to autosegmental theory, which claims separability and mobility between tonal and segmental representations...
December 2017: Language and Speech
Nazik Dinçtopal Deniz, Janet Dean Fodor
It is known from previous studies that in many cases (though not all) the prosodic properties of a spoken utterance reflect aspects of its syntactic structure, and also that in many cases (though not all) listeners can benefit from these prosodic cues. A novel contribution to this literature is the Rational Speaker Hypothesis (RSH), proposed by Clifton, Carlson and Frazier. The RSH maintains that listeners are sensitive to possible reasons for why a speaker might introduce a prosodic break: "listeners treat a prosodic boundary as more informative about the syntax when it flanks short constituents than when it flanks longer constituents," because in the latter case the speaker might have been motivated solely by consideration of optimal phrase lengths...
December 2017: Language and Speech
Jennifer M Martin, Jeanette Altarriba
The use of emotion in language is a key element of human interactions and a rich area for cognitive research. The present study examined reactions to words of five types: positive emotion (e.g., happiness), negative emotion (e.g., hatred), positive emotion-laden (e.g., blessing), negative emotion-laden (e.g., prison), and neutral (e.g., chance). Words and nonwords were intermixed in a lexical decision task using hemifield presentation. Results revealed a general left hemisphere advantage. Overall, reaction times for positive words were faster than for negative or neutral words and this effect varied by hemifield of presentation...
December 2017: Language and Speech
Elizabeth A McCullough, Cynthia G Clopper, Laura Wagner
Although adult listeners can often identify a talker's region of origin based on his or her speech, young children typically fail in dialect perception tasks, and little is known about the development of regional dialect representations from childhood into adulthood. This study explored listeners' understanding of the indexical importance of American English regional dialects across the lifespan. Listeners between 4 and 79 years old in the Midwestern United States heard talkers from the Midland, Northern, Southern, and New England regions in two regional dialect perception tasks: identification and discrimination...
November 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Jesse A Harris, Katy Carlson
We compare the roles of overt accent and default focus marking in processing ellipsis structures headed by focus-sensitive coordinators (such as Danielle couldn't pass the quiz, let alone the final/Kayla). In a small auditory corpus study of radio transcripts, we establish that such structures overwhelmingly occur with contrastive pitch accents on the correlate and remnant ( the quiz and the final, or Danielle and Kayla), and that there is a strong bias to pair the remnant with the most local plausible correlate in production...
November 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Alison Behrman, Sarah Hargus Ferguson, Ali Akhund, Mariola Moeyaert
This paper presents a comparative analysis of temporal rhythm in native American English talkers and Spanish-accented English talkers producing clear (hyperarticulated) speech and typical, conversational-style speech. Five acoustic measures of comparative vocalic and consonantal interval duration ("temporal metrics") were obtained from speech samples of 40 adult men and women (half native and half Spanish-accented talkers). In conversational-style speech, vocalic-based metrics differed significantly between native and Spanish-accented talkers, consistent with phonotactic differences between the two native languages...
November 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Jason A Shaw, Shigeto Kawahara
Research on English and other languages has shown that syllables and words that contain more information tend to be produced with longer duration. This research is evolving into a general thesis that speakers articulate linguistic units with more information more robustly. While this hypothesis seems plausible from the perspective of communicative efficiency, previous support for it has come mainly from English and some other Indo-European languages. Moreover, most previous studies focus on global effects, such as the interaction of word duration and sentential/semantic predictability...
November 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Joseph C Toscano, Charissa R Lansing
Listeners weight acoustic cues in speech according to their reliability, but few studies have examined how cue weights change across the lifespan. Previous work has suggested that older adults have deficits in auditory temporal discrimination, which could affect the reliability of temporal phonetic cues, such as voice onset time (VOT), and in turn, impact speech perception in real-world listening environments. We addressed this by examining younger and older adults' use of VOT and onset F0 (a secondary phonetic cue) for voicing judgments (e...
November 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Erin Conwell
In natural production, adults differentiate homophones prosodically as a function of the frequency of their intended meaning. This study compares adult and child productions of homophones to determine whether prosodic differentiation of homophones changes over development. Using a picture-based story-completion paradigm, isolated tokens of homophones were elicited from English-learning children and adult native English speakers. These tokens were measured for duration, vowel duration, pitch, pitch range, and vowel quality...
November 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Miquel Llompart, Miquel Simonet
This study investigates the production and auditory lexical processing of words involved in a patterned phonological alternation in two dialects of Catalan spoken on the island of Majorca, Spain. One of these dialects, that of Palma, merges /ɔ/ and /o/ as [o] in unstressed position, and it maintains /u/ as an independent category, [u]. In the dialect of Sóller, a small village, speakers merge unstressed /ɔ/, /o/, and /u/ to [u]. First, a production study asks whether the discrete, rule-based descriptions of the vowel alternations provided in the dialectological literature are able to account adequately for these processes: are mergers complete? Results show that mergers are complete with regards to the main acoustic cue to these vowel contrasts, that is, F1...
October 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Yuki Asano
The present study examines how vulnerable perception of second language prosody is to increased task demands. German learners of Japanese, German non-learners without exposure to Japanese, and Japanese native listeners were tested in their ability to discriminate consonant length contrasts (compared to vowel length contrasts that served as a control condition). Memory load was increased by a longer inter-stimulus interval (2500 ms compared to 300 ms) and the demand on attention control was enhanced through the addition of the acoustic complexity of the stimuli (i...
October 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Eun Jong Kong, Hyunjung Lee
Previous research has shown differential degrees of attention in processing hierarchical linguistic information where higher order cues require greater attention in speech processing. The current study investigated the influence of attentional resources on acoustic cue weightings in speech perception by examining Korean listeners' identifications of the three-way laryngeal stops (tense vs. lax vs. aspirated). Using a dual-task paradigm, we presented 28 adult Korean listeners with identification tasks blocked by no-distractor versus distractor conditions where arithmetic calculations distracted the listeners' speech processing...
September 1, 2017: Language and Speech
Julia Holzgrefe-Lang, Caroline Wellmann, Barbara Höhle, Isabell Wartenburger
Infants as young as six months are sensitive to prosodic phrase boundaries marked by three acoustic cues: pitch change, final lengthening, and pause. Behavioral studies suggest that a language-specific weighting of these cues develops during the first year of life; recent work on German revealed that eight-month-olds, unlike six-month-olds, are capable of perceiving a prosodic boundary on the basis of pitch change and final lengthening only. The present study uses Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) to investigate the neuro-cognitive development of prosodic cue perception in German-learning infants...
September 1, 2017: Language and Speech
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