Perception of syllable prominence by listeners with and without competence in the tested language  

Anders Eriksson, Esther Grabe2 & Hartmut Traunmüller

2 Phonetics Laboratory, University of Oxford, UK

Proceedings of the Speech Prosody 2002 Conference, 11-13 April 2002, Aix-en-Provence: Laboratoire Parole et Langage, 275-278. ISBN 2-9518233-0-4.


In an experiment reported previously, subjects rated perceived syllable prominence in a Swedish utterance produced by ten speakers at various levels of vocal effort. The analysis showed that about half of the variance could be accounted for by acoustic factors. Slightly more than half could be accounted for by linguistic factors. Here, we report two additional ex-periments. In the first, we attempted to eliminate the linguistic factors by repeating the Swedish listening experiment with English listeners who had no knowledge of Swedish. In the second, we investigated the prominence pattern Swedish sub-jects expect by presenting the utterance only in written form. The results from these subjects and from the Swedish listeners were very similar but for two of the syllables where the promi-nence pattern did not coincide with the expectations of the readers. Swedish and English listeners perceived the promi-nence of the syllables to be almost identical in most cases, but where there was a conflict between expected and produced prominence, the Swedish listeners appeared to be influenced by their expectations. There was also a difference in the weights the Swedish and English listeners attached to different acoustic cues in the listening experiments.

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