A Speech-Rate Intelligibility/Comprehensibility Threshold for Speeded and Time-Compressed Connected Speech
ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ALEXANDRIA VA
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The speech rapidity threshold is a new method for determining the maximum rate of speech understood by individual listeners. It involves repeated judgments of the comprehensibility of speech as the rate of speech varies. The purpose of the present experiment was to determine the relationship of the speech rapidity threshold to the intelligibility and comprehension of speech. To accomplish this, two experiments were conducted. The first experiment compared two types of speech reportedly different in intelligibility, simple speeded speech and compressed speech. Thresholds for compressed speech were significantly higher than those for speeded speech, an indication that the threshold at the very least reflects intelligibility. The second experiment correlated threshold values with traditional comprehension test scores. In general, correlations were low, an indication that the method is not a measure of comprehension. Results were interpreted to mean that the threshold reflects an intermediate level of information processing involving the perception of the potential for interpretation or comprehension rather than the complete act of comprehension per se.