Linguistics Department

Colloquium - Cynthia Clopper (Ohio State) "Interactions between Linguistic and Indexical Sources of Variation in Speech Production and Perception"

Mon, January 30, 2012 | UTC 3.134

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Variability in the speech signal has many sources, including linguistic properties of the utterance and indexical properties related to the talker. One important source of segmental variability is phonetic reduction due to properties of words and their linguistic context. For example, words with few similar-sounding lexical neighbors are reduced relative to words with many neighbors and words that are semantically predictable from the preceding context are reduced relative to words that are less predictable. One important source of indexical variability is the regional dialect of the talker. In American English, regional dialects are marked predominantly by subphonemic vowel variation. In a series of recent studies, we have explored the interaction between reduction processes and dialect variation in vowel production. The results demonstrate that talkers produce more extreme dialect-specific variants in contexts that promote reduction, suggesting that talkers are more likely to mark social-indexical information on target words that are relatively easy to access in production and/or perception. In a second series of experiments, we have examined the interaction between dialect variation and lexical competition in speech processing. The results reveal larger processing benefits due to semantic predictability and lexical competition for the local, standard variety relative to a non-local variety, suggesting that dialect familiarity substantially affects the speed and accuracy of speech perception and encoding.

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