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      The VOT Category Boundary in Word-Initial Stops: Counter-Evidence Against Rate Normalization in English Spontaneous Speech

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      Laboratory Phonology

      Ubiquity Press

      VOT, category boundary, English, spontaneous speech, rate normalization

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          Abstract

          Some languages, such as many varieties of English, use short-lag and long-lag VOT to distinguish word- and syllable-initial voiced vs. voiceless stop phonemes. According to a popular view, the optimal VOT category boundary between the two types of stops moves towards larger values as articulation rate becomes slower (and speech segments longer), and listeners accordingly shift the perceptual VOT category boundary. According to an alternative view, listeners do not shift the VOT category boundary with a change in articulation rate, because the same category boundary remains optimal across different rates of articulation in normal speech, although a shift in the optimal boundary location can be induced in the laboratory by instructing speakers to use artificially extreme articulation rates. In this study we compared the effectiveness of rate-independent VOT category boundaries applied to word-initial stop phonemes in spontaneous English speech, against the effectiveness of Miller et al.’s ( 1986) rate-dependent VOT category boundary applied to laboratory speech. The effectiveness of the two types of category boundaries were comparable, when spontaneous speech data were controlled for factors other than articulation rate. Our results suggest that perceptual VOT category boundaries need not shift with a change in articulation rate under normal circumstances.

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          Most cited references 56

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          Perceptual learning in speech.

          This study demonstrates that listeners use lexical knowledge in perceptual learning of speech sounds. Dutch listeners first made lexical decisions on Dutch words and nonwords. The final fricative of 20 critical words had been replaced by an ambiguous sound, between [f] and [s]. One group of listeners heard ambiguous [f]-final words (e.g., [WItlo?], from witlof, chicory) and unambiguous [s]-final words (e.g., naaldbos, pine forest). Another group heard the reverse (e.g., ambiguous [na:ldbo?], unambiguous witlof). Listeners who had heard [?] in [f]-final words were subsequently more likely to categorize ambiguous sounds on an [f]-[s] continuum as [f] than those who heard [?] in [s]-final words. Control conditions ruled out alternative explanations based on selective adaptation and contrast. Lexical information can thus be used to train categorization of speech. This use of lexical information differs from the on-line lexical feedback embodied in interactive models of speech perception. In contrast to on-line feedback, lexical feedback for learning is of benefit to spoken word recognition (e.g., in adapting to a newly encountered dialect).
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            Information Conveyed by Vowels

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              The Timing of Utterances and Linguistic Boundaries

               Ilse Lehiste (1972)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                1868-6354
                Laboratory Phonology
                Ubiquity Press
                1868-6354
                07 October 2016
                : 7
                : 1
                Affiliations
                Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre, Queen Margaret University, UK
                Article
                10.5334/labphon.49
                8e078578-1b9f-43d5-abc0-40a64f4b13d9
                Copyright: © 2016 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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