[PS-1.73] Slow speech can sound fast: How the speech rate of one talker has a contrastive effect on the perception of another talker

Maslowski, M. 1 , Bosker, H. R. 1, 2 & Meyer, A. S. 1

1 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen
2 Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen

Listeners are continuously exposed to a broad range of speech rates. Earlier work has shown that listeners perceive phonetic category boundaries relative to contextual speech rate. It has been suggested that this process of speech rate normalization occurs across talker changes. This would predict that the speech rate of talker A influences perception of the rate of another talker B. We assessed this hypothesis by testing effects of speech rate on the perception on the Dutch vowel continuum /A/-/a:/. One participant group was exposed to 'neutral' speech from talker A intermixed with fast speech from talker B. Another group listened to the same speech from talker A, but to slow speech from talker B. We observed a difference in perception of talker A depending on the speech rate of talker B: A's 'neutral' speech was perceived as slow when B spoke faster. These findings corroborate the idea that speech rate normalization occurs across talkers, but they challenge the assumption that listeners average over speech rates from multiple talkers. Instead, they suggest that listeners contrast talker-specific rates.