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Production and perception of prosodic cues to speech segmentation: multisensorial aspects


When we speak, how do we know where one word ends and the next word begins? This task, speech segmentation, is a critical topic in linguistic and psycholinguistic research, since speech segmentation precedes all other linguistic processes, such as syntactic parsing.

We know that listeners use a range of cues in their native language to help them in speech segmentation. The proposed project focuses on prosodic cues, e.g. intonational and durational cues, to speech segmentation in French.

The project examines a number of outstanding questions including:
- Do speakers produce more cues in situations in which listeners may experience difficulty in segmenting speech (e.g. noisy environments)?
- What is the time course of the use of prosodic cues to speech segmentation - do listeners use these cues in online speech processing in natural settings?
- Are there articulatory / visual correlates to prosodic events that act as cues to speech segmentation?

Techniques will include a 'Map Task', which elicits natural, but controlled speech; eye-tracking, which examines a natural response (eye gaze) in speech processing; and tracking of speech articulators (e.g. lips and tongue). The results will make theoretical and applied contributions to several fields, including linguistics, psycholinguistics, phonetics, and engineering.

On a theoretical level, the project will add to our knowledge about the nature of cues used in speech segmentation. The results will also have applications to the improvement of speech technology, such as text-to-speech synthesis and automatic speech recognition.

The project addresses a number of Community goals and project objectives, including enhancing Europe's international competitiveness (innovative theoretical research and its application to technology), increasing mobility of researchers and ties with third country institutions, and providing equality of opportunity for the disabled (for whom high quality speech technology can improve quality of life).

Call for proposal

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