Misperceptions of spoken words: Data from a random sample of American English words

Robert Albert Felty, Adam Buchwald, Thomas M. Gruenenfelder, David B. Pisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study reports a detailed analysis of incorrect responses from an open-set spoken word recognition experiment of 1428 words designed to be a random sample of the entire American English lexicon. The stimuli were presented in six-talker babble to 192 young, normal-hearing listeners at three signal-to-noise ratios (0, +5, and +10 dB). The results revealed several patterns: (1) errors tended to have a higher frequency of occurrence than did the corresponding target word, and frequency of occurrence of error responses was significantly correlated with target frequency of occurrence; (2) incorrect responses were close to the target words in terms of number of phonemes and syllables but had a mean edit distance of 3; (3) for syllables, substitutions were much more frequent than either deletions or additions; for phonemes, deletions were slightly more frequent than substitutions; both were more frequent than additions; and (4) for errors involving just a single segment, substitutions were more frequent than either deletions or additions. The raw data are being made available to other researchers as supplementary material to form the beginnings of a database of speech errors collected under controlled laboratory conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-585
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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