Speech Perception

2019 Linguistic Institute: Speech Perception (221) Patrice (Pam) Speeter Beddor beddor@umich.edu Kevin B. McGowan kbmcgowan@uky.edu

Monday & Thursday 1:05-2:30 pm

Experimental speech perception, which spans a period of more than 70 years, investigates how listeners interpret the input acoustic signal as linguistic forms. From the discipline’s earliest years, researchers recognized that the acoustic signal is highly variable and that perceptual processing is more complex (and interesting!) than a simple one-to-one mapping between acoustic property and linguistic percept. Yet, despite this complexity, humans are highly accurate perceivers of the intended speech in typical conversational interactions.

This course will provide students with an overview of the dominant theories of speech perception and the theoretical issues that drive empirical studies, including the fundamental question of whether speech perception differs from other types of auditory processing. Readings, course discussions, and hands-on experience with classic speech perception experiments will guide students through the field’s evolution from an emphasis on psychoacoustics and the acoustic signal to an appreciation for the structured nature of variation and how it informs perception. We will discover together that, while listeners closely attend to the structured variation, individual listeners do so in ways that depend on their linguistic experiences, social expectations, processing style, and more. Listeners are active participants who recruit multiple cognitive resources in achieving malleable, dynamic perception.

o Raphael, L.J., Borden, G.J., & Harris, K.S. 2011. Speech Science Primer. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott. 6th edition, chapters 5 & 6. o Reetz, H. & Jongman, A. 2008. Phonetics: Transcription, Production, Acoustics, and Perception. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. 1st edition, chapters 9 & 10. o Ladefoged, P. & Johnson, K. 2015. A Course in Phonetics. Boston, MA: Thomson. 6th edition, chapter 8. * Readings: There is no expectation that you will have time, during the busy weeks of the Institute, to read more than one paper per class meeting. For each class meeting, the syllabus marks the most strongly recommended reading in bold. (You might view other readings as background material that you may wish to consult after the Institute is over.) * Writing assignment: A roughly 500 word research prospectus for an original, theoretically motivated speech perception experiment or a two-page critical assessment, supported by experimental evidence from the literature, of a well-defined issue in speech perception. Students are encouraged to get together with Pam or Kevin to run their ideas past us before submitting their paper, which is due July 18 (11:59 pm).