Defence of dissertation in the field of Speech and Language Technology, M.Sc. (Tech.) Sofoklis Kakouros
The title of thesis is “Cognitive and probabilistic basis of prominence perception in speech”
Speech contains a variety of elements that contribute to the communication of meaning from speaker to listener. Prosody is an intrinsic factor of the form of spoken language corresponding to the manner something is said. In this context, prominence is a prosodic phenomenon that can be described through the subjective impression of emphasis where units in speech, such as words, are perceived to stand out from their context and therefore draw the attention of the listener.
Prominence is crucial in everyday discourse as it is the primary way to highlight information in an utterance, signaling what is important or relevant information in it. Even though there has been extensive research on the functional role and physical characteristics of prominence and also some research on its behavioral consequences on speech perception, little is known about the cognitive underpinnings of the role and cause of the subjective impression of prominence.
This thesis investigates the cognitive mechanisms associated with prominence by studying different aspects of the so-called prominence–attention–predictability tripartite and shows that learning and predictability of the speech input have significant consequences to the prosodic parsing of speech. In addition to illuminating the functional processes involved in the perception of prominence, the obtained results are utilized in the development of algorithms for the automatic detection of prominent words in speech.
Opponent: Professor Petra Wagner, University of Bielefeld, Germany
Supervisor: Professor Paavo Alku, Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering, Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics
Sofoklis Kakouros, +358 505582646, email@example.com,
Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics, P.O. Box 12200, 00076 Aalto, Finland