Eating dinner or grandma? Patterns of intonation are crucial to comprehension

Your tone of voice can tell others a lot about what you mean. Which intonation you use in a sentence matters and your intonation can help listeners figure out the critical difference between “Let’s eat, Grandma!” and “Let’s eat Grandma!” This is only one of a number of examples showing just how the same words […]

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You heard that right: accent judgment but not accent perception is influenced by expectations

Everyone “has an accent”—even if you think you don’t. Most likely, your accent is influenced by both your cultural identity, socioeconomic status, and other social processes, as well as more cognitive processes like emulating another person’s style in a conversation. Accents are such a strong indicator of social factors that they get associated to stereotypes, […]

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It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it: sound cues help listeners parse words differently across languages

Hearing other people speak a foreign language can be dizzying. How can they speak so fast? Why don’t they pause between words, like we do? Actually, foreign-language speakers do pause: but despite how it sounds to us in our native tongue, spoken language is not neatly broken up by silence between words. Not convinced? Take […]

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She’ll eat the red … ladybug: Exploiting constraints during language processing

For a long period of time in language research, people made the assumption that language processing and other aspects of cognition were distinct from each other. For example, most people have the impression that talking while driving is easy, even though talking on the phone can make driving more dangerous. In addition to the idea […]

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