ASA Lay Language Papers
161st Acoustical Society of America Meeting

Understanding casual speech: “Well he was like, 'what's wrong?!?'”


Dan Brenner (University of Arizona)
Natasha Warner (University of Arizona; and MPI for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen, the Netherlands)
Mirjam Ernestus (Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; and MPI for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen, the Netherlands)
Benjamin V. Tucker (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

Popular version of paper 5pSC17

This paper examines how listeners combine information about words, sentences, and sounds to understand very casual, even "sloppy" speech, in which sounds are not pronounced clearly.B Hearing speech is one of our most ordinary everyday activities, and much of the speech we hear is casual conversation, rather than careful speech like newscasting.B Casual speech often has sounds or whole syllables missing, and is not pronounced at all as one would expect. For example, if we listen to


it is difficult to make out what the person is saying.B Even though this is a string of three normal English words, it is difficult to understand it as having any meaning at all, or to say what sounds it includes.B However, when one hears this same recording in context,


one can easily understand the whole sentence ("Er, uh, Tuesday night, uh, when we were chillin' in the spab