Frequency Information in Speech Perception (Workshop)
Spoken language consists of sound signals that are notoriously variable, gradient and noisy. Yet, these signals carry extremely rich information, including nuances of meaning as well as information about the speaker. As speaker-hearers, we evidently have the cognitive skills to retrieve and process all that information, and we draw on our knowledge of language to do so.
usage-based approaches, speech perception and processing are conditioned by
prior experience with language. Thus, frequency information plays a crucial
role in speech perception. Typically, units of different sizes (e.g. phonemes,
syllables, words) or sequences that occur frequently are processed faster and
with greater ease; their recognition is affected less by reduction or noise. In
processing spoken words and phrases, listeners seem to match the input with a
detailed knowledge of the frequencies of pronunciation variants. Listeners also
draw on social information, treating variants according to their frequency in
familiar accents and registers. In sentence processing frequency information
guides expectations of upcoming items, and highly frequent multi-word sequences
are stored and processed as single units (‘chunking’).
While there is mounting evidence that hearers make ample use of frequency information, many questions in the area of speech perception remain unanswered, as well as questions concerning the interplay of speech perception and production.
The workshop program contains presentations of current research on the effects of frequency on the perception and processing of spoken language, as well as a discussion of relevant questions, such as:
- In what ways are effects in speech perception linked to preferences in speech production?
- How are frequency, experience and familiarization correlated? Can one be used as a measure of the other?
- Which levels of perception are sensitive to frequency information and how do the effects on the different levels interact in speech perception?
Audrey Bürki, Universität Potsdam
Cynthia Connine, Binghamton University