Integration of pragmatic and phonetic cues in spoken word recognition

Hannah Rohde, Marc Ettlinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although previous research has established that multiple top-down factors guide the identification of words during speech processing, the ultimate range of information sources that listeners integrate from different levels of linguistic structure is still unknown. In a set of experiments, we investigate whether comprehenders can integrate information from the 2 most disparate domains: pragmatic inference and phonetic perception. Using contexts that trigger pragmatic expectations regarding upcoming coreference (expectations for either he or she), we test listeners' identification of phonetic category boundaries (using acoustically ambiguous words on the /hi/∼/∫i/ continuum). The results indicate that, in addition to phonetic cues, word recognition also reflects pragmatic inference. These findings are consistent with evidence for top-down contextual effects from lexical, syntactic, and semantic cues, but they extend this previous work by testing cues at the pragmatic level and by eliminating a statistical-frequency confound that might otherwise explain the previously reported results. We conclude by exploring the time course of this interaction and discussing how different models of cue integration could be adapted to account for our results. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-983
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

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