English Listeners Use Suprasegmental Cues to Lexical Stress Early During Spoken-Word Recognition Purpose We used an eye-tracking technique to investigate whether English listeners use suprasegmental information about lexical stress to speed up the recognition of spoken words in English. Method In a visual world paradigm, 24 young English listeners followed spoken instructions to choose 1 of 4 printed referents on ... Research Article
Research Article  |   January 01, 2017
English Listeners Use Suprasegmental Cues to Lexical Stress Early During Spoken-Word Recognition
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Alexandra Jesse
    Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Katja Poellmann
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
  • Ying-Yee Kong
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Alexandra Jesse: ajesse@psych.umass.edu
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers
    Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   January 01, 2017
English Listeners Use Suprasegmental Cues to Lexical Stress Early During Spoken-Word Recognition
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, January 2017, Vol. 60, 190-198. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-15-0340
History: Received September 28, 2015 , Revised April 25, 2016 , Accepted June 13, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, January 2017, Vol. 60, 190-198. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-15-0340
History: Received September 28, 2015; Revised April 25, 2016; Accepted June 13, 2016

Purpose We used an eye-tracking technique to investigate whether English listeners use suprasegmental information about lexical stress to speed up the recognition of spoken words in English.

Method In a visual world paradigm, 24 young English listeners followed spoken instructions to choose 1 of 4 printed referents on a computer screen (e.g., “Click on the word admiral”). Displays contained a critical pair of words (e.g., ˈadmiral–ˌadmiˈration) that were segmentally identical for their first 2 syllables but differed suprasegmentally in their 1st syllable: One word began with primary lexical stress, and the other began with secondary lexical stress. All words had phrase-level prominence. Listeners' relative proportion of eye fixations on these words indicated their ability to differentiate them over time.

Results Before critical word pairs became segmentally distinguishable in their 3rd syllables, participants fixated target words more than their stress competitors, but only if targets had initial primary lexical stress. The degree to which stress competitors were fixated was independent of their stress pattern.

Conclusions Suprasegmental information about lexical stress modulates the time course of spoken-word recognition. Specifically, suprasegmental information on the primary-stressed syllable of words with phrase-level prominence helps in distinguishing the word from phonological competitors with secondary lexical stress.

Acknowledgments
This work is supported by National Institutes of Health Grant R01-DC012300 (awarded to Ying-Yee Kong). The authors thank Michael Bartoli and Robert Moura for their assistance in collecting the data for this study and Anne Cutler for stimulating this work. Parts of this work were presented at the 169th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.
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