Perception of speaker-specific phonetic detail

Smith, R. (2015) Perception of speaker-specific phonetic detail. In: Fuchs, S., Pape, D., Petrone, C. and Perrier, P. (eds.) Individual Differences in Speech Production and Perception. Series: Speech production and perception. Peter Lang, pp. 11-38. ISBN 9783631665060

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The individual speaker is one source among many of systematic variation in the speech signal. As such, speaker idiosyncrasies have attracted growing interest among researchers of speech perception, especially since the 1990s, when theories began to treat variation as information rather than noise. It is now a common assumption that people remember and respond to speaker specific phonetic behaviour. But what aspects of speaker specific behaviour are learned about and used to guide perception? Do listeners make full use of the richness of speaker-specific information available in the signal, and how can listeners’ use of such information be modelled? In this chapter I review evidence that processing of the linguistic message is affected by inter-speaker variation in a number of aspects of phonetic detail. Phonetic detail is defined here as patterns of phonetic information that are systematically distributed in the signal and perform particular linguistic or conversational functions, but whose perceptual contribution extends beyond signalling basic phonological contrasts (such as differences between phonemes or between categories of pitch accent). Following Polysp, the Polysystemic Speech Perception model of Hawkins and colleagues (Hawkins and Smith, 2001; Hawkins, 2003, 2010), I argue that people can learn about speaker specific realisations of any type of linguistic structure, from sub-phonemic features up to larger prosodic structures and, potentially, conversational units such as speaking turns. Speaker-specific attributes may even, on a more associative basis, enable direct access to aspects of meaning. I discuss circumstances liable to promote or disfavour the storage of speaker specific phonetic detail, considering issues such as the frequency and salience of particular speaker-specific patterns in the input, and listener biases in attribution of variation to possible causes.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Smith, Dr Rachel
Authors: Smith, R.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Publisher:Peter Lang

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