Understanding Speech

Oldenburg corpus of Linguistically and Audiologically Controlled Sentences

Corpus Description

The OLACS corpus is a custom designed set of sentences of varying complexity and matching pictures. Sentences cover a number of levels of structural complexity, differing in order of arguments, ambiguity of case marking and presence of embedding.

The lexical material used for the sentences has been controlled for word frequency and syllable count. The propositions described by the sentences were selected to contain only humans or anthropomorphicised entities engaged in actions with a clear division between Agent/Actor and Patient/Undergoer. For each sentence with relative clause embeddings, two propositions were combined that could plausible happen at the same time, in order to make the sentences suitable for being drawn. All sentences have been pretested for semantic plausibility.

The corpus also contains sound recordings of the sentences, spoken by a female professional speaker. Intelligibility of fragments and complete sentences has been assessed under different noise conditions.

For a selection of the material comic-style black and white drawings were created. For each sentence, two picture variants exist showing the two possible semantic role configurations. Match between pictures and sentences was assessed in a reaction time study.

A subset of sentences and pictures has been designed to be especially suitable for use in studies with even small children.

For a more detailed description of the construction criteria and the extensive pretests, please refer to:

Uslar, V., Carroll, R., Hanke, M., Hamann, C., Ruigendijk, E., Brand, T., & Kollmeier, B. (2013). Development and evaluation of a linguistically and audiologically controlled sentence intelligibility test. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134(4), 3039-3056. DOI: 10.1121/1.4818760.

Download original OLACS Sound Files and Pictures

Follow this link to download the original OLACS sound files (.wav).
Follow this link to download the corresponding black and white drawings (.png).
Files are coded with sentence id numbers. The corresponding sentences to these id numbers are listed in separate files:

  • Sound files used for SRT measurements by Uslar et al (2013) and Wendt et al (2015)
  • Sound files used for reaction times measurements by Carroll & Ruigendijk (2013)
  • Pictures used for eyetracking by Wendt et al (2014, 2015)

Note that a username and password are required to access the download links. They can be requested from: 

Prof. Dr. Esther Ruigendijk: esther.ruigendijk@uni-oldenburg.de
Dr. Thomas Brand: thomas.brand@uni-oldenburg.de

Example sentences

I. SVO simple transitive sentences

Der schlaue Kellner interviewt den frechen Friseur.
The(NOM) smart waiter interview:3SG the(ACC) cheeky barber
The smart waiter is interviewing the cheeky barber.

II. OVS transitive sentences with topicalised object

Den frechen Friseur interviewt der schlaue Kellner.
The(ACC) cheeky barber interview:3SG the(NOM) smart waiter
It is the cheeky barber that the smart waiter is interviewing.

III. OVS transitive sentences with topicalised object and temporal grammatical function ambiguity

Die dicke Köchin filmt der starke Matrose.
The(?ACC) big chef\F film:3SG the(NOM) strong sailor
It is the big chef that the strong sailor is filming.

IV. Intransitive sentences with embedded subject relative clause

Der Pilot, der die Räuber grüßt, schwitzt.
The(NOM) pilot, who(REL;NOM) the(ACC) burglar:PL greet:3SG, sweat:3SG
The pilot who is greeting the burglars is sweating.

V. Intransitive sentences with embedded object relative clause

Der Pilot, den die Räuber grüßen, schwitzt.
The(NOM) pilot, who(REL;ACC) the(ACC) burglar:PL greet:3PL, sweat:3SG
The pilot whom the burglars are greeting is sweating.

VI. Intransitive sentences with embedded subject relative clause and temporal grammatical function ambiguity

Die Ärztinnen, die die Bäuerin wecken, lächeln.
The(NOM) doctor\F:3PL, who(REL;?NOM) the(?ACC) farmer\F:SG wake:3PL, smile:3PL
The doctors who are waking the farmer are smiling.

VII. Intransitive sentences with embedded object relative clause and temporal grammatical function ambiguity

Die Ärztinnen, die die Bäuerin weckt, lächeln.
The(NOM) doctor\F:3PL, who(REL;?ACC) the(?NOM) farmer\F:SG wake:3SG, smile:3PL
The doctors whom the farmer is waking are smiling.

Stimuli used in Publications

Stimuli used in reaction time studies by Carroll & Ruigendijk (2013) and Jochmann et al. (2014): [pdf]

Stimuli used in SRT studies by Uslar et al (2013), Wendt et al. (2014), and in Uslar (2014): [pdf]