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Beating the bounds: Localized timing cues to word segmentation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laurence WhiteORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2015 Author(s). Prosody facilitates perceptual segmentation of the speech stream into a sequence of words and phrases. With regard to speech timing, vowel lengthening is well established as a cue to an upcoming boundary, but listeners' exploitation of consonant lengthening for segmentation has not been systematically tested in the absence of other boundary cues. In a series of artificial language learning experiments, the impact of durational variation in consonants and vowels on listeners' extraction of novel trisyllables was examined. Language streams with systematic lengthening of word-initial consonants were better recalled than both control streams without localized lengthening and streams where word-initial syllable lengthening was confined to the vocalic rhyme. Furthermore, where vowel-consonant sequences were lengthened word-medially, listeners failed to learn the languages effectively. Thus the structural interpretation of lengthening effects depends upon their localization, in this case, a distinction between lengthening of the onset consonant and the vocalic syllable rhyme. This functional division is considered in terms of speech-rate-sensitive predictive mechanisms and listeners' expectations regarding the occurrence of syllable perceptual centres.

Publication metadata

Author(s): White L, Mattys SL, Stefansdottir L, Jones V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Year: 2015

Volume: 138

Issue: 2

Pages: 1214-1220

Online publication date: 28/08/2015

Acceptance date: 31/07/2015

Date deposited: 31/05/2019

ISSN (print): 0001-4966

ISSN (electronic): 1520-8524

Publisher: Acoustical Society of America


DOI: 10.1121/1.4927409

PubMed id: 26328734


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