The influence of F0 discontinuity on intonational cues to word segmentation: A preliminary investigation

Author(s): Pauline Welby and Oliver Niebuhr


The paper presents the results of a 2AFC offline word-identification experiment by [1], reanalyzed to investigate how F0 discontinuities due to voiceless fricatives and voiceless stops affect cues to word segmentation in accentual-phrase-initial rises (APRs) of French relative to a reference condition with liquid and nasal consonants. Although preliminary due to the small sample size, we found initial evidence that voiceless consonants degrade F0 cues to word segmentation relative to liquids and nasals. In addition, this degradation seems to be stronger for voiceless stops than for voiceless fricatives, as listeners in the latter condition were still more sensitive to (resynthesized) changes in the residual rise fragments. This evidence is consistent with the intonational model of [2], which predicts that listeners can to some degree restore frication-filled gaps but not silent gaps in F0, by using pitch impressions created by the fricative noise. Our results call for follow-up studies that use French APRs as a testing ground for the intonational model of [2] and also examine the precise nature of intonational cues to word segmentation.