Durational cues to word boundaries in spontaneous speech

Jiaer Tao, Francisco Torreira, Meghan Clayards


We investigated the extent to which durational cues to word boundaries are present in spontaneous speech. Spontaneous speech of North American English was elicited in a production experiment, with target phrases embedded in articles provided to participants. Each pair of target phrases only differed in the placement of word boundaries, e. g., beef#eater vs. bee#feeder. We examined the duration of: (1) the pivot consonant at the juncture (e. g., [f] in [bi:fiɾɚ]), (2) the pre-juncture section (e. g., [bi:] in [bi:fiɾɚ]), and (3) the post-juncture section (e. g., [iɾɚ] in [bi:fiɾɚ]), to see how these durations can signal word boundaries. The effect of word-final lengthening was absent from our study. However, similar to boundary-related lengthening found in laboratory read speech, word-initial lengthening was found in spontaneous speech, which could potentially serve as an important cue to word segmentation.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-49

Cite as: Tao, J., Torreira, F., Clayards, M. (2018) Durational cues to word boundaries in spontaneous speech. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 240-244, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-49.


@inproceedings{Tao2018,
  author={Jiaer Tao and Francisco Torreira and Meghan Clayards},
  title={Durational cues to word boundaries in spontaneous speech},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={240--244},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-49},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-49}
}