First European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology

Paris, France
September 27-29, 1989

Natural Speech Cues to Word Segmentation Under Difficult Listening Conditions

Anne Cutler, Sally Butterfield

MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, UK

One of a listener's major tasks in understanding continuous speech is segmenting the speech signal into separate words. When listening conditions are difficult, speakers can help listeners by deliberately speaking more clearly. In three experiments, we examined how word boundaries are produced in deliberately clear speech. We found that speakers do indeed attempt to mark word boundaries; moreover, they differentiate between word boundaries in a way which suggests they are sensitive to listener needs. Application of heuristic segmentation strategies makes word boundaries before strong syllables easiest for listeners to perceive; but under difficult listening conditions speakers pay more attention to marking word boundaries before weak syllables, i.e. they mark those boundaries which are otherwise particularly hard to perceive.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Cutler, Anne / Butterfield, Sally (1989): "Natural speech cues to word segmentation under difficult listening conditions", In EUROSPEECH-1989, 2372-2375.