Speaker and accent variation are handled differently: evidence in native and non-native listeners

Kriengwatana, B. , Terry, J., Chládková, K. and Escudero, P. (2016) Speaker and accent variation are handled differently: evidence in native and non-native listeners. PLoS ONE, 11(6), e0156870. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156870) (PMID:27309889) (PMCID:PMC4911083)

197624.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



Listeners are able to cope with between-speaker variability in speech that stems from anatomical sources (i.e. individual and sex differences in vocal tract size) and sociolinguistic sources (i.e. accents). We hypothesized that listeners adapt to these two types of variation differently because prior work indicates that adapting to speaker/sex variability may occur pre-lexically while adapting to accent variability may require learning from attention to explicit cues (i.e. feedback). In Experiment 1, we tested our hypothesis by training native Dutch listeners and Australian-English (AusE) listeners without any experience with Dutch or Flemish to discriminate between the Dutch vowels /I/ and /ε/ from a single speaker. We then tested their ability to classify /I/ and /ε/ vowels of a novel Dutch speaker (i.e. speaker or sex change only), or vowels of a novel Flemish speaker (i.e. speaker or sex change plus accent change). We found that both Dutch and AusE listeners could successfully categorize vowels if the change involved a speaker/sex change, but not if the change involved an accent change. When AusE listeners were given feedback on their categorization responses to the novel speaker in Experiment 2, they were able to successfully categorize vowels involving an accent change. These results suggest that adapting to accents may be a two-step process, whereby the first step involves adapting to speaker differences at a pre-lexical level, and the second step involves adapting to accent differences at a contextual level, where listeners have access to word meaning or are given feedback that allows them to appropriately adjust their perceptual category boundaries.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research and the work of BK, KC, and JT was conducted with support from the Australian Research Council grant DP130102181 awarded to PE. KC’s work was also supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, where PE is the Chief Investigator (project number CE140100041).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kriengwatana, Dr Pralle
Authors: Kriengwatana, B., Terry, J., Chládková, K., and Escudero, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Kriengwatana et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 11(6): e0156870
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record