ASA 124th Meeting New Orleans 1992 October

4pSP3. The role of stress in word segmentation.

Paul N. Yerkey

James R. Sawusch

Dept. of Psychol., SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260

Research reported at a previous meeting of the Acoustical Society examined the role of strong syllables in segmentation [P. N. Yerkey and J. R. Sawusch, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 91, 2338(A) (1992)]. Subjects were asked to monitor bisyllabic nonwords for the presence of a word. The stimuli initially contained two stressed syllables, and were later edited to reduce the amplitude and duration of the second syllable. The results showed no effect of vowel quality on segmentation. This suggests that the vowel was not influencing segmentation, but that stress alone served as the primary cue for segmentation. In the present studies, the experimental items were recorded with naturally stressed and unstressed second syllables. In different experiments, the stimuli were presented to listeners with their natural stress patterns or after alteration of the amplitude and duration of the second syllable. The pattern of results across variations in second syllable stress and vowel quality (tense, lax, or neutral) will be discussed with respect to its influence on perception and implications for models of word segmentation. [Work supported by NIDCD Grant No. DC 00219 to SUNY at Buffalo.]