Effects of Pragmatic Inference on Phoneme Identification


Although previous research has established that multiple top-down factors guide the identification of sounds during speech processing, the ultimate range of interaction across levels of linguistic structure is still unknown. In a set of experiments, we investigate whether interactive effects emerge between the two most disparate domains: pragmatic inference and acoustic speech perception. We use contexts that trigger pragmatic expectations regarding upcoming coreference (expectations for either he or she), and, in those contexts, we test listeners' identification of phonetic category boundaries (using words on the /hi/~/∫i/ continuum). The results indicate that pragmatic inference can indeed alter listeners’ identification of phonetic categories.

Back to Table of Contents