SPP 1234:
Sprachlautliche Kompetenz: Zwischen Grammatik, Signalverarbeitung und neuronaler Aktivität
Phonological and phonetic competence: between grammar, signal processing, and neural activity

Project: The syllable as a processing unit in speech production: Evidence from frequency effects on coarticulation

Funded by German Research Foundation (DFG), project MO 597/4-1, 2009-2012

PI: Bernd Möbius and Petra Wagner (Univ. Bielefeld)
Researcher: Barbara Samlowski


The project investigates predictions of models of syllable production in speech that assume an interaction between frequency of occurrence and encoding of articulatory processes. Differences in frequencies of occurrence of syllable types are expected to result in different degrees of coarticulation. We predict a stronger degree of coarticulation in high-frequency syllables than in rare syllables. The project will test predictions derived from several proposed production models, such as the mental syllabary concept and the dual-pathway hypothesis. The investigation will be carried out in a series of production and subsequent perception experiments. Coarticulatory strength will be assessed based on the phonetic and statistical analysis of well-established acoustic correlates. Experimental results will also be interpreted from an exemplar-theoretic perspective. An important methodological objective is to develop a reliable procedure for estimating syllable frequencies in spoken language. The project aims to contribute experimental evidence towards a consistent view of the function and conceptual relevance of a phonetic syllabary in speech production.


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