First International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 90)

Kobe, Japan
November 18-22, 1990

The Effects of Syntactic and Discourse Variables on the Segmental Intelligibility of Speech

Judith C. Goodman (1), Howard C. Nusbaum (2), Lisa Lee (2), Kevin Broihier (2)

(1) Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
(2) Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Spoken words depend on their linguistic context to be identified in fluent speech. We examined whether contextual dependence varied with the level of information conveyed by a word. In particular, we compared the intelligibility of closed-class vs. open-class words and of given vs. new discourse information. If speakers articulate most clearly words that provide the greatest information, then open-class words and new discourse information should be less dependent on context. Words were excised from conversational speech and presented to listeners for identification. Closed-class words were accurately identified significantly less often than open-class words and open-class words expressing given information were identified significantly less often than those expressing new information. Results can be attributed to the clarity of articulation of each segment in a word rather than to greater coarticulation between word boundaries for the less informative words. Furthermore, results cannot be attributed solely to focal stress. The results are interpreted as driven by a speaker's notions about what is functionally communicative.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Goodman, Judith C. / Nusbaum, Howard C. / Lee, Lisa / Broihier, Kevin (1990): "The effects of syntactic and discourse variables on the segmental intelligibility of speech", In ICSLP-1990, 393-396.