NSF Grant to study perceptual correlates of syllable weight
This project explores the hypothesis that the phenomenon of syllable weight in stress systems is perceptually motivated. In particular, it is hypothesized that languages choose weight criteria that fit best with the phonetic characteristics of their syllables. Best fit is assessed as the degree to which heavy and light syllables are separated into groups that are perceptually distinct from each other in terms of prominence: the greater the difference in prominence between heavy and light syllables according to a given weight criterion, the better the match between phonetic and phonology. Thus far, focus has been on the parameterization of coda weight on a language-specific basis, i.e. in some languages, CVC is light, whereas in others it is heavy. Software (called "Cricket") was designed (software engineer: Carlos Nash) to quantify prominence both acoustically (as the integration over intensity over time) and perceptually (as the integration of intensity over time in the auditory domain through the application of a series of filters reflecting well established auditory phenomena). Cricket may be downloaded from the link below along with a guide for using the software.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. BCS-0343981. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).