VI Framework European Union, Marie Curie Research Training Network
S2S is an interdisciplinary EC-funded Marie Curie Research Training Network (MC-RTN) involving engineers, computer scientists, psychologists, and linguistic phoneticians.
We use a variety of approaches to investigate what types of information are available in the speech signal, and how listeners use that information when they are listening in their native language, or in a foreign language, or in a noisy place like a railway station, when it is hard to hear the speech. These three types of listening situation allow us to see how listeners actively use their knowledge, together with the speech they hear, to understand a message.
Recent research shows that quite fine phonetic detail in the speech signal can carry information crucial to successfully understanding every aspect of a message, from its formal linguistic content, like words and grammar, to the interactional structure which keeps a conversation going. This is not the traditional view, and it challenges most models of speech processing, especially in the central role they give to phonemes and syllables. In contrast, two of S2S’s fundamental principles are that phonetic information is encoded in units of different lengths and degrees of complexity, and that any given sound in the signal fulfils multiple communicative functions simultaneously—its fine detail indicating what those functions are.