How the Native Language shapes Listening to Speech
Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Postal address: Street address: Phone, fax:
PO Box 310 Wundtlaan 1 +31 24 3521377
Listening to speech feels like about the easiest thing we do, but the separate operations it consists of - such as segmenting a continuous
stream of input into its discrete components, or selecting words from among a vocabulary extending into the hundreds of thousands - are
highly complex. The efficiency with which these operations are carried out derives from the fact that they are, at all points, exquisitely
adapted to the characteristics of the mother tongue. This process of adaptation begins in the earliest stages of listening, in infancy. In
this short course, recent evidence from listening experiments will be reviewed, with particular focus on what the evidence tells us about
the universal architecture of listening, and the cross-language variations that it requires.
Lecture 1: What is spoken language like, and what does this mean for
Vocabulary structure and the nature of speech.
Lecture 2: How the native language shapes speech segmentation
Exploiting language-specificity to deal with the continuity of speech.
Lecture 3: How the native language shapes listening from the earliest possible moment
Infant speech perception, and its legacy in adult listening.
Lecture 4: How the native language gives itself an advantage
Listening to non-native and second-language speech input.
Lecture 5: How the native language shapes prelexical processing
Flexibility in phonetic processing (and even how language change happens).
There is no obligatory preliminary reading for this course.
However, there is a handout (CutlerLOTVU2010-T.pdf) giving background information about
experimental methods in the study of spoken language processing; it would be useful to consult this in advance.
There will also be a complete reference list of all literature referred to in the lectures (CutlerLOTVU2010-R.pdf)
and a handout of the Powerpoint presentation for each lecture (CutlerLOTVU2010-1 to 5.pdf).