Characteristics of listener sensitivity to talker-specific phonetic detail.

Research paper by Rachel M RM Theodore, Joanne L JL Miller

Indexed on: 26 Oct '10Published on: 26 Oct '10Published in: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America


Previous research shows that listeners are sensitive to talker differences in phonetic properties of speech, including voice-onset-time (VOT) in word-initial voiceless stop consonants, and that learning how a talker produces one voiceless stop transfers to another word with the same voiceless stop [Allen, J. S., and Miller, J. L. (2004). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 115, 3171-3183]. The present experiments examined whether transfer extends to words that begin with different voiceless stops. During training, listeners heard two talkers produce a given voiceless-initial word (e.g., pain). VOTs were manipulated such that one talker produced the voiceless stop with relatively short VOTs and the other with relatively long VOTs. At test, listeners heard a short- and long-VOT variant of the same word (e.g., pain) or a word beginning with a different voiceless stop (e.g., cane or coal), and were asked to select which of the two VOT variants was most representative of a given talker. In all conditions, which variant was selected at test was in line with listeners' exposure during training, and the effect was equally strong for the novel word and the training word. These findings suggest that accommodating talker-specific phonetic detail does not require exposure to each individual phonetic segment.