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Re: perception of durational variability

Hi Volker:

I don't think there are any data suggesting that people cannot distinguish interval durations at fast rates. The question is how large the differences must be to be detected, and how the magnitude of that difference depends on rate. There is no "breakdown" of discrimination at any rate.

It is unclear what your listeners had to do. You are talking about "a big effect of rate on listeners' perception of speech rhythm", but what does this have to do with interval discrimination? What exactly was the effect of rate on perceived speech rhythm, and how did interval durations vary?


Bruno and Pierre,

thank you so much for your helpful suggestions!

The work on rhythm is more what I am looking for. I found a big effect of rate on listeners' perception of speech rhythm. I assume that it may have something to do with listeners not being able to detect interval variability in speech any more when the intervals under investigation are shorter (typically the case in so called 'syllable-timed languages' because they posses simpler phonotactic structures). So I am looking for evidence showing at what rate interval distinction ability breaks down in rhythmic contexts.

However, all interval durations I am looking at (syllables, c- or v-intervals) are well below 200 ms in any language I have collected data on, which, judged by the rhythm findings, would mean that listeners should not be able to detect durational variability at all between any of the speech intervals (when judging duration only!) and that can hardly be true. It probably has to do with the fact that interval variability in my speech stimuli is much more complex and do not fulfill the criterion of isochrony in the way they do it in the Friberg & Sundberg study. I am working on an explanation...

Best wishes & thanks again,

Volker Dellwo
Department of Phonetics & Linguistics
University College London

phone: +44 (0)20 7679 5003 (internal: 25003)


Bruno H. Repp
Haskins Laboratories
300 George Street
New Haven, CT 06511-6624
Tel. (203) 865-6163, ext. 236
Fax (203) 865-8963