When ordinary listeners listen to spontaneous speech, what determines their understanding of the prosodic structure of that speech? Several recent studies have surveyed native listeners and taken their perceptions as the basis for analysis (e.g. Cole et al. 2010 Laboratory Phonology). A study of this type in French compared perceptions of single-speaker passages of two types of spontaneous speech: informal conversation and more formal journalistic discussion. Untrained native speakers of French listened to recordings and marked on a transcript where they perceived boundaries between groups of words. Their responses were then examined with respect to acoustic measurements of the speech samples. Among the acoustic measures, the most reliable correlates of a perceived boundary were the presence of a pause and a rise in F0. These cues assist listeners in interpreting the stream of spontaneous speech, which in most cases contains few syntactically complete sentences.
Selected Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Romance Phonology
edited by Scott M. Alvord
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