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Reduction in natural speech [Elektronische Ressource] / vorgelegt von Frank Zimmerer

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Reduction in Natural SpeechInauguraldissertationzur Erlangung des Grades eines Doktors der Philosophie im Fachbereich Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität zu Frankfurt am MainVorgelegt von Frank Zimmerer aus Konstanz2008 (Einreichungsjahr)2009 (Erscheinungsjahr)Tag der Disputation: 03. August, 2009Gutachter: Prof. Dr. Reetz, Prof. Dr. Gippert, Prof. Dr. Dr. LahiriReduction in Natural SpeechInauguraldissertation von Frank ZimmererAbstractNatural (conversational) speech, compared to cannonical speech, is earmarked by the tremendous amount of variation that often leads to a massive change in pronunciation. Despite many attempts to explain and theorize the variability in conversational speech, its unique characteristics have not played a significant role in linguistic modeling. One of the reasons for variation in natural speech lies in a tendency of speakers to reduce speech, which may drastically alter the phonetic shape of words. Despite the massive loss of information due to reduction, listeners are often able to understand conversational speech even in the presence of background noise. This dissertation investigates two reduction processes, namely regressive place assimilation across word boundaries, and massive reduction and provides novel data from the analyses of speech corpora combined with experimental results from perception studies to reach a better understanding of how humans handle natural speech.
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Reduction in Natural Speech
Inauguraldissertation
zur Erlangung des Grades eines Doktors der Philosophie
im Fachbereich Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften
der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
zu Frankfurt am Main
Vorgelegt von Frank Zimmerer aus Konstanz
2008
(Einreichungsjahr)
2009
(Erscheinungsjahr)
Tag der Disputation: 03. August, 2009
Gutachter:
Prof. Dr. Reetz, Prof. Dr. Gippert, Prof. Dr. Dr. LahiriReduction in Natural Speech
Inauguraldissertation von
Frank ZimmererAbstract
Natural (conversational) speech, compared to cannonical speech, is earmarked by
the tremendous amount of variation that often leads to a massive change in pronunciation.
Despite many attempts to explain and theorize the variability in conversational speech, its
unique characteristics have not played a significant role in linguistic modeling. One of the
reasons for variation in natural speech lies in a tendency of speakers to reduce speech, which
may drastically alter the phonetic shape of words. Despite the massive loss of information
due to reduction, listeners are often able to understand conversational speech even in the
presence of background noise.

This dissertation investigates two reduction processes, namely regressive place
assimilation across word boundaries, and massive reduction and provides novel data from
the analyses of speech corpora combined with experimental results from perception studies
to reach a better understanding of how humans handle natural speech. The successes and
failures of two models dealing with data from natural speech are presented: The FUL-model
(Featurally Underspecified Lexicon, Lahiri & Reetz, 2002), and X-MOD (an episodic model,
Johnson, 1997). Based on different assumptions, both models make different predictions
for the two types of reduction processes under investigation. This dissertation explores the
nature and dynamics of these processes in speech production and discusses its consequences
for speech perception. More specifically, data from analyses of running speech are presented
investigating the amount of reduction that occurs in naturally spoken German. Concerning production, the corpus analysis of regressive place assimilation reveals
that it is not an obligatory process. At the same time, there emerges a clear asymmetry: With
only very few exceptions, only [coronal] segments undergo assimilation, [labial] and [dorsal]
segments usually do not. Furthermore, there seem to be cases of complete neutralization
where the underlying Place of Articulation feature has undergone assimilation
to the Place of Articulation feature of the upcoming segment. Phonetic analyses further
underpin these findings. Concerning deletions and massive reductions, the results clearly
indicate that phonological rules in the classical generative tradition are not able to explain
the reduction patterns attested in conversational speech. Overall, the analyses of deletion
and massive reduction in natural speech did not exhibit clear-cut patterns. For a more in-
depth examination of reduction factors, the case of final /t/ deletion is examined by means
of a new corpus constructed for this purpose. The analysis of this corpus indicates that
although phonological context plays an important role on the deletion of segments (i.e. /t/),
this arises in the form of tendencies, not absolute conditions. This is true for other deletion
processes, too.
Concerning speech perception, a crucial part for both models under investigation
(X-MOD and FUL) is how listeners handle reduced speech. Five experiments investigate
the way reduced speech is perceived by human listeners. Results from two experiments show
that regressive place assimilations can be treated as instances of complete neutralizations by
German listeners. Concerning massively reduced words, the outcome of transcription and
priming experiments suggest that such words are not acceptable candidates of the intended
lexical items for listeners in the absence of their proper phrasal context.

Overall, the abstractionist FUL-model is found to be superior in explaining
the data. While at first sight, X-MOD deals with the production data more readily, FUL
provides a better fit for the perception results. Another important finding concerns the role
of phonology and phonetics in general. The results presented in this dissertation make a
strong case for models, such as FUL, where phonology and phonetics operate at different
levels of the mental lexicon, rather than being integrated into one. The findings suggest that
phonetic variation is not part of the representation in the mental lexicon.Acknowledgements
This dissertation has been a constant company for a noticeable part of my life.
Now that this project is completed, I feel like an important period has been mastered. Such
landmarks in life are always a very good occasion for looking back, evaluate the past and,
most importantly, thank the people that helped you reach this point. I would like to thank
Henning Reetz, my supervisor, who is an excellent teacher with an immense and
profound knowledge not only in phonetics. He never forced me to learn from him but he
made me interested to ask questions. I learned and profited a lot. Henning always gave me
freedom and trust to write the dissertation my way.
Aditi Lahiri, my co-supervisor. She was the person that showed me how
fascinating and important linguistics in general and phonology in particular are. Her
incredible competence, her wisdom, her patience, her endurance, her ingenious ideas and
also her generosity have been the founding basis for my interest in linguistics. Without her,
this dissertation would not have been written.
When I started to study phonology, Mirco Ghini was one of the reasons to
continue doing so. I have never met someone who was so enthusiastic, so full of joy for
phonology than he was. Discussing linguistics with him was always fun, and extremely
instructive. He will not be forgotten.
Mathias Scharinger who took the same “Intro to Phonology” as I did. On the
way through the time and space of linguistics, we became colleagues and close friends. He
always had time discussing linguistic and extra-linguistic topics, and commented on prior
versions of this dissertation. Working with him was always fun and effective.
Verena Felder, who shared office with me and Mathias in Konstanz. The
atmosphere of our office was always motivating and never boring.
∙i∙Willi Nagl, who helped me with pressing questions concerning statistics, even
at very short notice.
The SFB 471 and the department of linguistics at the University of Konstanz.
I am very grateful having had the opportunity to learn and work in such a stimulating
linguistic biotope. These institutions were a perfect academic home for me for quite some
time. I am agreeing with Frans Plank, the current speaker of the SFB, who emphasized
that working in the SFB is very inspiring. Colleagues never seize to ask questions, helping
to think and rethink your work, improving it every time. It really is a perfect place to do
linguistics, not only in Germany.
The Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt, the Fachbereich 9,
and the Institut für Phonetik that became my new academic home.
The DFG; without this institution, neither the SFB 471, nor the current SPP
1234 in which our project participates, would exist.
Peter Cartsunis who did a great job in improving my English writing.
Claas & Heike, who made me feel welcome from the first time we talked. I
always felt like at home.
Thanks to my friends who know me and still are my friends.
Jana, Anita & Klaus, who enlarged our family.
My parents and my sister. From the beginning of my life, they were there for
me. And they still are. With trust and patience my parents let me make my decisions letting
me know that they support me with all their love and strength.
Manuela Lopez who makes my life better. Every day. Thank you for her creativity,
her patience, her smiles and her love. I cannot express my gratitude enough for having met
her and her endurance of sharing me with linguistics and Frankfurt.
Thank you so much. I know that without you all, my life and this dissertation
would not be the same.
∙ii∙Table of contents
Chapter1: Introduction 01
1.1 Variation 04
1.1.1 Sources of Variation 08
1.1.1.1 Inter-Speaker Variation 09
1.1.1.2 Intra-Speaker Variation 10
1.1.1.3 Segmental Variation 10
1.2 Research Questions 11
1.3 Architecture of this Dissertation 12
1.4 Corpus 13
Chapter 2: Theoretical Assumptions 17
2.1 Introduction 17
2.2 The Featurally Underspecified Lexicon Model 21
2.2.1 Basic Assumptions 22
2.2.1.1 Representation: The Mental Lexicon 22
2.2.1.2 Speech Perception 24
2.2.1.3 Sroduction 27
2.3 Exemplar Models 29
2.3.1 Basic Assumptions 30
2.3.1.1 Representation: Multiple Exemplars with fine Phonetic Detail 30
2.3.1.2 Speech Perception 35
2.3.1.3 Sroduction 36
∙iii∙Chapter 3: A Case of Phonologically Based Reduction?
Regressive Assimilation of Place of Articulation 39
3.1 Introduction 39
3.2 Corpus Analysis of Regressive Place
Assimilation Across Word Boundaries 41
3.2.1 Regressive Place Assimilation for Function Words 46
3.2.2 Lexical Words 49
3.2.3 Comparison of Function and Lexical Words’ Behaviour 50
3.2.4 Discussion 52
3.3 Perception of Regressive Place Assimilation in German 55
3.3.1 Experiment 1: Phoneme Identification 55
3.3.2 Experiment 2: Phoneme Transcription Task 64
3.3.3 Acoustic Measurements 67
3.4 General Discussion 71
Chapter 4: Deletions and massive reductionss 73
4.1 Introduction 73
4.2 Production Data 76
4.2.1 Massive Reductions and Deletions in the Literature 76
4.2.2 Corpus Analysis 82
4.2.2.1 Amount and Nature of Deletions in Conversational German 82
4.2.2.2 Discussion 92
4.2.3 Case Study of Final /t/ Deletion in Verbal Paradigms 93
4.2.3.1 Introduction 93
4.2.3.2 Corpus Construction 96
4.2.3.3 Results 99
4.2.3.4 Discussion and Conclusions 102
4.2.4 Discussion of the Production Data 104
4.3 Perception Data 105
4.3.1 Experiment 3: Transcription of Words out of Context 111
4.3.2 Experiment 4: Identity Repetition Priming 118
4.3.3 Experiment 5: Transcription and Priming Combined 124
4.3.4 Discussion of the priming experiment, and both tasks combined 134
Chapter 5: Summary and Conclusions 139
∙iv∙