5aSC2. Good prosody facilitates comprehension.

Session: Friday Morning, December 6


Author: A. A. Sanderman
Location: Inst. for Percept. Res., P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Author: R. Collier
Location: Inst. for Percept. Res., P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB, Eindhoven, The Netherlands


Previous research showed that prosodic features are perceptually conspicuous in marking boundaries and that a suitable implementation of these features improves the quality of synthetic speech in terms of acceptability. Assumably, listeners use prosody to compute the informational structure of the input speech. The hypothesis is that differently phrased utterances may lead to differences in cognitive load during comprehension. A method was designed in which a kind of verification task is combined with a question-answering task. The stimulus set consisted of structurally ambiguous sentences. The expectations were as follows: (a) when listeners receive a question followed by an appropriately phrased utterance, they will react more rapidly than when it is followed by an utterance without phrasing; (b) in the latter situation reaction times (RTs) will still be shorter than if an inappropriately phrased utterance is presented. The results confirmed these expectations for the situation where the prosodically intended reading corresponded to the most likely interpretation of the ambiguous sentences. However, when the least likely interpretation was the prosodically suggested one, it appeared that a question followed by an inappropriately phrased utterance gave the same RTs as one without phrasing. But an appropriately phrased utterance still produced the fastest RTs.

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996