Producing words in connected speech: the role of prosodic units

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Psychology

Abstract

In order to produce fluent connected speech, pronounceable, rhythmic, articulatory gestures must be constructed from discrete mental representations of words. The sound structure of words can undergo dramatic changes when they are produced in different utterance contexts. For example, the sentence "do you like her", could be articulated as a single phonological word eg, "je-lie-ker"; a prosodic unit with one main stress.



These structural changes are systematic and are governed by strict, language dependent phonological rules. The aim of the present research is interdisciplinary in nature: it is an experimental investigation of the role of prosodic structures suggested by linguistic theory in the restructuring of lexical representations during speech production.



Recent research has suggested that phonological word structure has implications for both the planning of speech output and the articulatory nature of the speech produced (Wheeldon and Lahiri, 1997, 2002). The experiments are designed to relate the planning of speech output to the timing of the articulatory processes. Two reaction time experiments will investigate the production of simple sentences (eg "I like to swim"). The effect of the prosodic structure of the sentences on their speech onset latency and the acoustic properties of the speech output will be determined.

Publications


10 25 50
 
Description [1] Our findings have implications for both psycholinguistic and linguistic theory. We have shown that the prosodic word is a planning unit in the production of English as well as Dutch (Wheeldon & Lahiri, 1997). This cross-linguistic replication confirms the role of prosodic units in speech planning in Germanic languages and opens the prospect that they may be fundamental to the planning of sentences in all languages, subject to language internal constraints. In addition, our research has verified the delayed and on-line production methodologies as reliable diagnostic tools for prosodic units. This provides linguistic researchers with an objective experimental technique for testing theoretical claims across other language families.

[2] Our data also provide evidence for a phonological grouping of lexical items rather than a purely syntactic phrasing. Weak function words prefer to cliticise and group with the preceding lexical item rather than the following item, ignoring the syntactic phrasing which may prefer a functional head to the left. This has theoretical implications for both linguistic models of the syntax-phonology interface and psycholinguistic models of incremental speech planning.

[3] Finally our study has demonstrated a clear link between the prosodic and articulatory properties of speech. We had not anticipated that the prosodic grouping of the sentence initial pronouns in English would vary according to their inherent phonetic properties, as well as be influenced by the initial segment of the following verb. We have completed detailed acoustic analyses, which suggest hitherto unknown phonetic reductions and resyllabifications within sentence initial prosodic groups.
Exploitation Route We are continuing to use the experimental techniques developed here as a diagnostic for prosoduc srtucutre, are other researchers.
Sectors Other
 
Description , New YorkGenerating phonological words: evidence from English phrase production. CUNY NY 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Postdoc present research

Talk was well received
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Generating phonological words: evidence from English phrase production. EPS, Granada 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation poster presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Postdoc presented poster

Poster was well received
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Generating phonological words: evidence from English phrase production. Manchester Phonology meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Postdoc presented research

Talk was well recieved
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Planning connected speech: phonological word structure in English phrase production. Workshop Queen Mary University of London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Postdoc gave the talk which was well received.

The postdoc reported requestion about research publication
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Planning spoken sentences: the role of prosodic units. Seminar on Prosodic Interfaces. JNU New Delhi 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The talk was given to a largely linguistic audience and was well recieved. A great deal of interest was shown in our findings and in using the experimental method we developed as a diagnostic linguisitic tool.

Increased interest in experimental research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Pronoun attachment in English prosodic word production. Frontiers of Prosody workshop. Leiden, NL 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The talk was to an linguistic audience who showed a great deal of interest in the experimental method


Interest in out methodology as a tool in linguistics
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Pronoun attachment in English prosodic word production. Invited seminar, Department of Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Invited seminar given to Department of Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin. Audience showed interest in the novel method.

interest in publication
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013