Temporal regularity in speech perception: Is regularity beneficial or deleterious?

Proc Meet Acoust. 2012 Apr;14:060004. doi: 10.1121/1.4707937.


Speech rhythm has been proposed to be of crucial importance for correct speech perception and language learning. This study investigated the influence of speech rhythm in second language processing. German pseudo-sentences were presented to participants in two conditions: 'naturally regular speech rhythm' and an 'emphasized regular rhythm'. Nine expert English speakers with 3.5±1.6 years of German training repeated each sentence after hearing it once over headphones. Responses were transcribed using the International Phonetic Alphabet and analyzed for the number of correct, false and missing consonants as well as for consonant additions. The over-all number of correct reproductions of consonants did not differ between the two experimental conditions. However, speech rhythmicization significantly affected the serial position curve of correctly reproduced syllables. The results of this pilot study are consistent with the view that speech rhythm is important for speech perception.