The Influence of Linguistic Content on the Lombard Effect Purpose: The Lombard effect describes the tendency for speakers to increase pitch, intensity, and duration in the presence of noise. It is unclear whether these modifications are uniformly applied across all words within an utterance or whether information-bearing content words are further enhanced compared with function words. In the ... Article/Report
Article/Report  |   February 2008
The Influence of Linguistic Content on the Lombard Effect
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rupal Patel
    Northeastern University, Boston
  • Kevin W. Schell
    Northeastern University, Boston
  • Contact author: Rupal Patel, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Ave., Room 102 FR, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail: r.patel@neu.edu.
  • © 2008 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article/Report   |   February 2008
The Influence of Linguistic Content on the Lombard Effect
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2008, Vol. 51, 209-220. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/016)
History: Received November 2, 2006 , Accepted June 28, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2008, Vol. 51, 209-220. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/016)
History: Received November 2, 2006; Accepted June 28, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 24

Purpose: The Lombard effect describes the tendency for speakers to increase pitch, intensity, and duration in the presence of noise. It is unclear whether these modifications are uniformly applied across all words within an utterance or whether information-bearing content words are further enhanced compared with function words. In the present study, the authors investigated the influence of linguistic content on acoustic modifications made to speech in noise.

Method: Sixteen speaker–listener pairs engaged in an interactive cooperative game in quiet, 60 dB of multitalker noise, and 90 dB of multitalker noise. Speaker productions were analyzed to examine differences in fundamental frequency (F0), intensity, and duration of target words in sentences across noise conditions.

Results: Proportional increases in F0, intensity, and duration were noted for all word types as noise increased from quiet to 60 dB. From quiet to 90 dB, content words that referred to agents, objects, and locations were disproportionately elongated compared with function words. Additionally, agents were further enhanced by increased F0.

Conclusions: At moderate noise levels, most word types appear to be uniformly boosted in F0, intensity, and duration. As noise increases, linguistic content shapes the extent of the Lombard effect, with F0 and duration serving as primary cues for marking information-bearing word types.

Acknowledgments
We would like to express our gratitude to Elyes Yaich for developing the interactive game interface, Howard Cabral for his assistance with the statistical analysis, and the participants for their time. This research was supported, in part, by Grant 0509935 from the National Science Foundation and by the Northeastern University Research Development and Scholarship Fund.
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