Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

THE ROLE OF ACOUSTIC CUES AND LISTENER PROFICIENCY IN THE PERCEPTION OF ACCENT IN NONNATIVE SOUNDS

  • Nikola Anna Eger (a1) and Eva Reinisch (a1)

Abstract

The speech of second language learners is often influenced by phonetic patterns of their first language. This can make them difficult to understand, but sometimes for listeners of the same first language to a lesser extent than for native listeners. The present study investigates listeners’ awareness of the accent by asking whether accented speech is not only more intelligible but also more acceptable to nonnative than native listeners. English native speakers and German learners rated the goodness of words spoken by other German learners. Production quality was determined by measuring acoustic differences between minimal pairs with “easy” versus “difficult” sounds. Higher proficient learners were more sensitive to differences in production quality and between easy and difficult sounds, patterning with native listeners. Lower proficient learners did not perceive such differences. Perceiving accented productions as good instances of L2 words may hinder development because the need for improvement may not be obvious.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      THE ROLE OF ACOUSTIC CUES AND LISTENER PROFICIENCY IN THE PERCEPTION OF ACCENT IN NONNATIVE SOUNDS
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      THE ROLE OF ACOUSTIC CUES AND LISTENER PROFICIENCY IN THE PERCEPTION OF ACCENT IN NONNATIVE SOUNDS
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      THE ROLE OF ACOUSTIC CUES AND LISTENER PROFICIENCY IN THE PERCEPTION OF ACCENT IN NONNATIVE SOUNDS
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Nikola Anna Eger, Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Schellingstrasse 3, 80799 Munich, Germany. E-mail: eger@phonetik.uni-muenchen.de

Footnotes

Hide All

This work was supported by a grant of the German Research Council (DFG, grant nr. RE 3047/1-1). We would like to thank Matthias Sjerps and Auburn Lutzross for help with testing native speakers of English and Rosa Franzke for help with the German learners.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Baayen, R. H., Davidson, D. J., & Bates, D. M. (2008). Mixed-effects modeling with crossed random effects for subjects and items. Journal of Memory and Language, 59, 390412.
Barr, D. J., Levy, R., Scheepers, C., & Tily, H. J. (2013). Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language, 68, 255278.
Barry, W. J. (1979). Complex encoding in word-final voiced and voiceless stops. Phonetica, 36, 361372.
Bates, D., Mächler, M., Bolker, B., & Walker, S. (2015). Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, 67, 151.
Becker, T. (2012). Einführung in die Phonetik und Phonologie des Deutschen. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
Bent, T., & Bradlow, A. R. (2003). The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114, 16001610.
Bent, T., Bradlow, A. R., & Smith, B. L. (2008). Production and perception of temporal patterns in native and non-native speech. Phonetica, 65, 131147.
Best, C. T., & Tyler, M. D. (2007). Nonnative and second-language speech perception: Commonalities and complementarities. In Bohn, O.-S. & Munro, M. J. (Eds.), Language experience in second language speech learning: In honor of James Emil Flege (pp. 1334). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins.
Bissiri, M. P., & Pfitzinger, H. R. (2009). Italian speakers learn lexical stress of German morphologically complex words. Speech Communication, 51, 933947.
Boersma, P., & Weenink, D. (2015). Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [Computer program]. Version 5.4.08. Retrieved from http://www.praat.org/.
Bohn, O. S., & Flege, J. E. (1992). The production of new and similar vowels by adult German learners of English. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 14, 131158.
Bradlow, A. R., & Bent, T. (2008). Perceptual adaptation to non-native speech. Cognition, 106, 707729.
Broersma, M. (2010). Perception of final fricative voicing: Native and nonnative listeners’ use of vowel duration. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 127, 16361644.
Broersma, M. (2012). Increased lexical activation and reduced competition in second-language listening. Language and Cognitive Processes, 27, 12051224.
Clarke, C. M., & Garrett, M. F. (2004). Rapid adaptation to foreign-accented English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 116, 36473658.
Cutler, A. (2015). Representation of second language phonology. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36, 115128.
Darcy, I., Daidone, D., & Kojima, C. (2014). Asymmetric lexical access and fuzzy lexical representations in second language learners. The Mental Lexicon, 8, 372420.
Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J. (2015). Pronunciation fundamentals: Evidence-based perspectives for L2 teaching and research (Vol. 42). Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Deterding, D. (1997). The formants of monophthong vowels in Standard Southern British English pronunciation. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 27, 4755.
Draxler, C., & Jänsch, K. (2004). Speech recorder: A universal platform independent multi-channel audio recording software. In Lino, M. T., Xavier, M. F., Ferreira, F., Costa, R., & Silva, R. (Eds.), Proceedings of language resources and evaluation (pp. 559562). Lisbon, Portugal: Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
Escudero, P., Benders, T., & Lipski, S. C. (2009). Native, non-native and L2 perceptual cue weighting for Dutch vowels: The case of Dutch, German, and Spanish listeners. Journal of Phonetics, 37, 452465.
Escudero, P., Hayes-Harb, R., & Mitterer, H. (2008). Novel second-language words and asymmetric lexical access. Journal of Phonetics, 36, 345360.
Ferguson, S. H., Jongman, A., Sereno, J. A., & Keum, K. (2010). Intelligibility of foreign-accented speech for older adults with and without hearing loss. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 21, 153162.
Field, A., Miles, J., & Field, Z. (2012). Discovering statistics using R. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
Flege, J. E. (1984). The detection of French accent by American listeners. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 76, 692707.
Flege, J. E. (1995). Second language speech learning: Theory, findings, and problems. In Strange, W. (Ed.), Speech perception and linguistic experience: Issues in cross-language research (pp. 233277). Timonium, MD: York Press.
Flege, J. E. (2003). Assessing constraints on second-language segmental production and perception. In Schiller, N. & Meyer, A. (Eds.), Phonetics and phonology in language comprehension and production: Differences and similarities (pp. 319358). Berlin, Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.
Flege, J. E., & Fletcher, K. L. (1992). Talker and listener effects on degree of perceived foreign accent. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 91, 370389.
Flege, J. E., Munro, M. J., & MacKay, I. R. (1995). Factors affecting strength of perceived foreign accent in a second language. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97, 31253134.
Gluszek, A., Newheiser, A. K., & Dovidio, J. F. (2011). Social psychological orientations and accent strength. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 30, 2845.
Guion, S. G., Flege, J. E., & Loftin, J. D. (2000). The effect of L1 use on pronunciation in Quichua–Spanish bilinguals. Journal of Phonetics, 28, 2742.
Hanulíková, A., & Weber, A. (2012). Sink positive: Linguistic experience with th substitutions influences nonnative word recognition. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 74, 613629.
Harding, L. (2012). Accent, listening assessment and the potential for a shared-L1 advantage: A DIF perspective. Language Testing, 29, 163180.
Hayes-Harb, R., Smith, B. L., Bent, T., & Bradlow, A. R. (2008). The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit for native speakers of Mandarin: Production and perception of English word-final voicing contrasts. Journal of Phonetics, 36, 664679.
Hillenbrand, J., Getty, L. A., Clark, M. J., & Wheeler, K. (1995). Acoustic characteristics of American English vowels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97, 30993111.
Hobel, B., Moosmüller, S., & Kaseß, C. (2016). Pronunciation norms and pronunciation habits of orthographic <ä, äh> in Standard Austrian German. Phonetician, 113, 2448.
Imai, S., Flege, J., & Walley, A. (2003). The recognition of accented and unaccented English words by native speakers of Spanish and English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 113, 2255.
Ingvalson, E. M., Holt, L. L., & McClelland, J. L. (2012). Can native Japanese listeners learn to differentiate /r–l/ on the basis of F3 onset frequency? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15, 255274.
Iverson, P., Kuhl, P. K., Akahane-Yamada, R., Diesch, E., Tohkura, Y. I., Kettermann, A., & Siebert, C. (2003). A perceptual interference account of acquisition difficulties for non-native phonemes. Cognition, 87, B47B57.
Kleber, F., John, T., & Harrington, J. (2010). The implications for speech perception of incomplete neutralization of final devoicing in German. Journal of Phonetics, 38, 185196.
Kuhl, P. K., Conboy, B. T., Coffey-Corina, S., Padden, D., Rivera-Gaxiola, M., & Nelson, T. (2008). Phonetic learning as a pathway to language: New data and native language magnet theory expanded (NLM-e). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 363, 9791000.
Levy, E. S., & Law, F. F II. (2010). Production of French vowels by American-English learners of French: Language experience, consonantal context, and the perception-production relationship. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128, 12901305.
Llompart, M., & Reinisch, E. (2017). Articulatory information helps encode lexical contrasts in a second language. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43, 10401056.
Major, R. C., Fitzmaurice, S. F., Bunta, F., & Balasubramanian, C. (2002). The effects of nonnative accents on listening comprehension: Implications for ESL assessment. TESOL Quarterly, 36, 173190.
Morey, R. D. (2008). Confidence intervals from normalized data: A correction to Cousineau (2005). Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology, 4, 6164.
Moyer, A. (2007). Do language attitudes determine accent? A study of bilinguals in the USA. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 28, 502518.
Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (1999). Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 49, 285310.
Munro, M. J., Derwing, T. M., & Morton, S. L. (2006). The mutual intelligibility of L2 speech. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28, 111131.
Peirce, J. W. (2007). PsychoPy: Psychophysicssoftware in Python. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 162, 813.
Pinet, M., Iverson, P., & Huckvale, M. (2011). Second-language experience and speech-in-noise recognition: Effects of talker-listener accent similarity. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 130, 16531662.
Piske, T., MacKay, I. R., & Flege, J. E. (2001). Factors affecting degree of foreign accent in an L2: A review. Journal of Phonetics, 29, 191215.
Quené, H., & van den Bergh, H. (2008). Examples of mixed-effects modeling with crossed random effects and with binomial data. Journal of Memory and Language, 59, 413425.
R Core Team (2017). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Retrieved from https://www.r-project.org/.
Reinisch, E., & Weber, A., (2012). Adapting to suprasegmental lexical stress errors in foreign-accented speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132, 11651176.
Reinisch, E., Weber, A., & Mitterer, H. (2013). Listeners retune phoneme categories across languages. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 39, 7586.
Röttger, T. B., Winter, B., Grawunder, S., Kirby, J., & Grice, M. (2014). Assessing incomplete neutralization of final devoicing in German. Journal of Phonetics, 43, 1125.
Saito, K., & Lyster, R. (2012). Effects of form-focused instruction and corrective feedback on L2 pronunciation development of /ɹ/ by Japanese learners of English. Language Learning, 62, 595633.
Schertz, J., Cho, T., Lotto, A., & Warner, N. (2015). Individual differences in phonetic cue use in production and perception of a non-native sound contrast. Journal of Phonetics, 52, 183204.
Schertz, J., Cho, T., Lotto, A., & Warner, N. (2016). Individual differences in perceptual adaptability of foreign sound categories. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 78, 355367.
Schmid, M. S., & Hopp, H. (2014). Comparing foreign accent in L1 attrition and L2 acquisition: Range and rater effects. Language Testing, 31, 367388.
Sebastián-Gallés, N., Echeverría, S., & Bosch, L. (2005). The influence of initial exposure on lexical representation: Comparing early and simultaneous bilinguals. Journal of Memory and Language, 52, 240255.
Sidaras, S. K., Alexander, J. E., & Nygaard, L. C. (2009). Perceptual learning of systematic variation in Spanish-accented speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 125, 33063316.
Smith, B. L., Hayes-Harb, R., Bruss, M., & Harker, A. (2009). Production and perception of voicing and devoicing in similar German and English word pairs by native speakers of German. Journal of Phonetics, 37, 257275.
Thompson, I. (1991). Foreign accents revisited: The English pronunciation of Russian immigrants. Language Learning, 41, 177204.
Thomson, R. I. (2012). Improving L2 listeners’ perception of English vowels: A computer-mediated approach. Language Learning, 62, 12311258.
van Wijngaarden, S. J. (2001). Intelligibility of native and non-native Dutch speech. Speech Communication, 35, 103113.
van Wijngaarden, S. J., Steeneken, H. J., & Houtgast, T. (2002). Quantifying the intelligibility of speech in noise for non-native listeners. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 111, 19061916.
Wade, T., Jongman, A., & Sereno, J. (2007). Effects of acoustic variability in the perceptual learning of non-native-accented speech sounds. Phonetica, 64, 122144.
Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2004). Lexical competition in non-native spoken-word recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 50, 125.
Weber, A., Broersma, M., & Aoyagi, M. (2011). Spoken-word recognition in foreign-accented speech by L2 listeners. Journal of Phonetics, 39, 479491.
Weber, A., Di Betta, A. M., & McQueen, J. M. (2014). Treack or trit: Adaptation to genuine and arbitrary foreign accents by monolingual and bilingual listeners. Journal of Phonetics, 46, 3451.
Wester, F., Gilbers, D., & Lowie, W. (2007). Substitution of dental fricatives in English by Dutch L2 speakers. Language Sciences, 29, 477491.
Winke, P., Gass, S., & Myford, C. (2013). Raters’ L2 background as a potential source of bias in rating oral performance. Language Testing, 30, 231252.
Witteman, M. J., Weber, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2013). Foreign accent strength and listener familiarity with an accent co-determine speed of perceptual adaptation. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 75, 537556.
Wright, R. (2004). A review of perceptual cues and cue robustness. In Hayes, B., Kirchner, R., & Steriade, D. (Eds.), Phonetically Based Phonology (pp. 3457). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Xie, X., & Fowler, C. A. (2013). Listening with a foreign-accent: The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit in Mandarin speakers of English. Journal of Phonetics, 41, 369378.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

THE ROLE OF ACOUSTIC CUES AND LISTENER PROFICIENCY IN THE PERCEPTION OF ACCENT IN NONNATIVE SOUNDS

  • Nikola Anna Eger (a1) and Eva Reinisch (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.