Listeners' sensitivity to syllable complexity in speech tempo perception

Plug, Leendert and Lennon, Robert and Smith, Rachel (2020) Listeners' sensitivity to syllable complexity in speech tempo perception. In: 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 2020-05-25 - 2020-05-28.

[thumbnail of SP_50]
Text (SP_50)

Download (429kB)


Studies of speech tempo commonly use syllable or segment rate as a proxy measure for perceived tempo. While listeners' sensitivity to syllable rate is well-established [1-4], clear evidence for listeners' additional sensitivity to segment rate - that is, to syllable complexity alongside syllable rate - is as yet lacking. In [5, 6] we reported on experiments that showed no evidence for listeners' orientation to segment rate differences between stimuli that have the same syllable rate. In these experiments, we kept syllable rate constant by working with a single carrier phrase and equalizing phrase durations. Given that phrase duration is a separate temporal parameter from syllable rate, it is important to complement this work with experiments using less homogeneous stimulus sets, in which syllable rate is controlled without equalizing stimulus durations. In this paper we report on an experiment that uses stimuli selected from a corpus of unscripted British English speech. Within crucial subsets there was minimal variation in one out of syllable and segment rate, and substantial variation in the other. Stimulus duration varied independently. Listeners ranked stimuli for perceived tempo. Results suggest that faced with these more variable stimuli, listeners do orient to segment rate in ranking stimuli that have near-identical syllable rates - presumably reflecting the influence of syllable complexity. Moreover, stimulus duration emerges as a separate factor influencing listeners' rankings.

Item Type:
Contribution to Conference (Paper)
Journal or Publication Title:
10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
22 Jun 2021 15:10
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 08:45