Some conversations are forgotten as soon as they are over, while other exchanges may leave lasting imprints. University of Texas at Austin researchers Sandie Keerstock and Rajka Smiljanic want to understand why and how listeners remember some spoken utterances more clearly than others. They’re specifically looking at ways in which clarity of speaking style can affect memory.
Keerstock, a UT Austin doctoral student, and Smiljanic, an associate professor and linguist who heads UTsoundLab, will describe their work at the Acoustical Society of America’s 176th Meeting, held in conjunction with the Canadian Acoustical Association’s 2018 Acoustics Week in Canada, Nov. 5-9 at the Victoria Conference Centre in Victoria, Canada.
In one experiment, 30 native and 30 nonnative English listeners were presented with 72 sentences, broken down into six blocks of 12 sentences each. These sentences — such as “The grandfather drank the dark coffee” or “The boy carried the heavy chair” — were alternately produced in two different styles: “clear” speech, in which the speaker talked slowly, articulating with great precision, and a more casual and speedily delivered “conversational” manner.