The Perception of Rhythm and Word Boundaries in Noise-Masked Speech The present experiment tested the suggestion that human listeners may exploit durational information in speech to parse continuous utterances into words. Listeners were presented with six-syllable unpredictable utterances under noise-masking, and were required to judge between alternative word strings as to which best matched the rhythm of the masked utterances. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1989
The Perception of Rhythm and Word Boundaries in Noise-Masked Speech
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Mary R. Smith
    MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, U.K.
  • Anne Cutler
    MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, U.K.
  • Sally Butterfield
    MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, U.K.
  • Ian Nimmo-Smith
    MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, U.K.
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1989
The Perception of Rhythm and Word Boundaries in Noise-Masked Speech
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1989, Vol. 32, 912-920. doi:10.1044/jshr.3204.912
History: Received November 14, 1988 , Accepted March 4, 1989
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1989, Vol. 32, 912-920. doi:10.1044/jshr.3204.912
History: Received November 14, 1988; Accepted March 4, 1989

The present experiment tested the suggestion that human listeners may exploit durational information in speech to parse continuous utterances into words. Listeners were presented with six-syllable unpredictable utterances under noise-masking, and were required to judge between alternative word strings as to which best matched the rhythm of the masked utterances. For each utterance there were four alternative strings: (a) an exact rhythmic and word boundary match, (b) a rhythmic mismatch, and (c) two utterances with the same rhythm as the masked utterance, but different word boundary locations. Listeners were clearly able to perceive the rhythm of the masked utterances: The rhythmic mismatch was chosen significantly less often than any other alternative. Within the three rhythmically matched alternatives, the exact match was chosen significantly more often than either word boundary mismatch. Thus, listeners both perceived speech rhythm and used durational cues effectively to locate the position of word boundaries.

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