Clear Speech - Mere Speech? How segmental and prosodic speech reduction shape the impression that speakers create on listeners

Publication: Research - peer-reviewConference article


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Research on speech reduction is primarily concerned with
analyzing, modeling, explaining, and, ultimately, predicting
phonetic variation. That is, the focus is on the speech signal
itself. The present paper adds a little side note to this fundamental
line of research by addressing the question whether
variation in the degree of reduction also has a systematic
effect on the attributes we ascribe to the speaker who produces
the speech signal. A perception experiment was carried out for
German in which 46 listeners judged whether or not speakers
showing 3 different combinations of segmental and prosodic
reduction levels (unreduced, moderately reduced, strongly reduced)
are appropriately described by 13 physical, social, and
cognitive attributes. The experiment shows that clear speech is
not mere speech, and less clear speech is not just reduced either.
Rather, results revealed a complex interplay of reduction
levels and perceived speaker attributes in which moderate
reduction can make a better impression on listeners than no
reduction. In addition to its relevance in reduction models and
theories, this interplay is instructive for various fields of
speech application from social robotics to charisma coaching.
Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalProceedings of 18th International Interspeech Conference
Pages (from-to)894-898
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 21 Aug 2017


  • speech reduction, personality traits, perception