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Function words are often reduced or even deleted in casual conversation (Fig. 1). Pairs may neutralize: he’s/he was, we’re/we were What sources of information.

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Presentation on theme: "Function words are often reduced or even deleted in casual conversation (Fig. 1). Pairs may neutralize: he’s/he was, we’re/we were What sources of information."— Presentation transcript:

1 Function words are often reduced or even deleted in casual conversation (Fig. 1). Pairs may neutralize: he’s/he was, we’re/we were What sources of information do listeners use in interpreting reduced function words? What affects whether listeners extract information from the signal, or simply rely on biases (perhaps phrasal frequency)? References Arai, T. (1999). A case study of spontaneous speech in Japanese. Proc. of the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS), San Francisco, 1: Ernestus, Mirjam, Baayen, R. Harald, & Schreuder, Rob. (2002). The recognition of reduced word forms. Brain and Language, 81: 162–173. Greenberg, Steven. (1999). Speaking in shorthand - A syllable-centric perspective for understanding pronunciation variation. Speech Communication, 29: van de Ven, M., Ernestus, M., & Schreuder, R. (Submitted). Contextual influences in the understanding of spontaneous speech. Were we or are we? Perception of Reduced Function Words in Spontaneous Conversations Natasha Warner*, Dan Brenner*, Anna Woods*, Benjamin V. Tucker**, Mirjam Ernestus‡ *U. Arizona, Tucson; **U. Alberta, Edmonton; ‡Radboud U. Nijmegen & MPI for Psycholinguistics Casual phone conversations by 22 native English-speaking American students, recorded in a sound booth Extracted 188 utterances/phrases containing (s)he is, (s)he’s(s)he was we are, we’rewe were they are, they’rethey were other X-is/was/are/were 3 context conditions (Fig. 1): Full phrase, Limited (through surrounding vowels), Isolation (target he’s, we were, etc. only) Isolation supplies acoustic cues within the target word(s), Limited adds speech rate and coarticulation information, Full adds syntactic/semantic information 62 listeners (42 Eng. monolingual, all native) heard each item in each context, responded is vs. was, are vs. were 3pSC Introduction: Questions Methods Results Discussion In perceiving reduced, potentially neutralized function words, listeners use acoustic information within the word itself (isolation), and additionally use cues outside the word (syntax, semantics, speech rate). Speech rate is more helpful for longer forms (was, were), while syntax/semantics is most important for shorter forms (‘s, ‘re). Reduction creates more ambiguity between are/were than between is/was, perhaps because pairs like “we’re” vs. “were” have less vowel quality difference than “he’s” vs. “he was.” Quotative “like” greatly increases ambiguity in the preceding is/was verb, even if the “like” is not heard. This suggests there is more reduction in the high frequency phrases “he’s like,” “she was like,” etc. Listeners use a variety of information sources, as well as overall bias, perhaps based on frequency, to interpret reduced function words. There is a small overall tendency toward present responses: For is/was pairs, 61.8% “is” responses overall, for are/were pairs, 56.2% “are” responses. Figure 2: Listeners extract significantly more information from the full utterance than from the isolated target. They use primarily syntactic/semantic information if the word is actually the shorter option (is, are), but mostly speech rate if it is the longer (was, were): varying effect of limited context. Figure 3: Items vary in intelligibility. If are/were items are difficult (reduced), utterance context helps greatly, but if they are clear (less reduced), context adds little. For is/was, more context rarely helps even if they are difficult (reduced). Figure 4: Young speakers use quotative “like” frequently (e.g. “And she’s like, ‘Yay! I’m so excited for you!’”). In targets without “like,” listeners make significantly better use of acoustic information in is/was than in are/were. When the target is followed by “like,” listeners rely more on bias toward is, even if they do not hear the following “like” (isolation). Er, uh, Tuesday night, uh when we were chill in’ in the spa, but Figure 1: Ex. item Ʊ ? n w ɚ (w) ɚ ʧ ʌ ? Full Limited Iso. Figure 2: All data except quotative "like" Figure 3: Representative sample items Figure 4: In isolation only ("like" for sing. only, too few tokens in plural)


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