Speaking Rate Affects the Perception of Duration as a Suprasegmental Lexical-stress Cue
Three categorization experiments investigated whether the speaking rate of a preceding sentence influences durational cues to the perception of suprasegmental lexical-stress patterns. Dutch two-syllable word fragments had to be judged as coming from one of two longer words that matched the fragment segmentally but differed in lexical stress placement. Word pairs contrasted primary stress on either the first versus the second syllable or the first versus the third syllable. Duration of the initial or the second syllable of the fragments and rate of the preceding context (fast vs. slow) were manipulated. Listeners used speaking rate to decide about the degree of stress on initial syllables whether the syllables’ absolute durations were informative about stress (Experiment 1a) or not (Experiment 1b). Rate effects on the second syllable were visible only when the initial syllable was ambiguous in duration with respect to the preceding rate context (Experiment 2). Absolute second syllable durations contributed little to stress perception (Experiment 3). These results suggest that speaking rate is used to disambiguate words and that rate-modulated stress cues are more important on initial than non-initial syllables. Speaking rate affects perception of suprasegmental information.
from Language and Speech