This is the poster we’re presenting this week in Glasgow, designed by yours truly. In quick, layman’s terms:
We had people say the phrase ‘Pam said bat that fat cat at that mat’, with emphasis placed on different words. We measured the movements of their jaws, lips and tongues, and used that to estimate the ‘magnitude’ of each syllable. Then we asked college students from the US and Japan to judge whether they heard stress on a syllable, and whether they heard breaks between syllables. It turns out that they can hear how much speakers move their jaws pretty well—we think this is a major signal of stress. They also tend to hear a break before ‘strong’ syllables.
The hope is that this research will contribute to an understanding of how people articulate the rhythm and stress of language. In this case, we were looking at English, but it’s part of a larger series of projects comparing the articulation of speakers of other languages as well.