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Syntax and Speech is the first extensive examination of the relation between sentence structure and the organization of speech. Combining the methods of cognitive psychology, linguistics, and acoustics, William E. Cooper and Jeanne Paccia-Cooper show that a surprising amount of syntactic information is conveyed by the subtle ways a speaker times the delivery of a sentence.
Syntax and Speech provides abundant experimental evidence that the syntactic boundaries of surface phrase structure have strong effects on the timing of the speech signal.
The Coopers develop a detailed theory of structural representation to account for the location of pauses and elongated speech sounds. This work bears importantly both upon psychological theories of speech production and linguistic theories of sentence structure. Moreover, their methods of examining speech provide an admirable model of how complex human behavior can be successfully analyzed. The results, which can be applied to language pathology and communications engineering and have clear parallels in other expressive behaviors such as American Sign Language, music, and animal communication, provide the starting point for many new lines of research in cognitive science.