Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 October 2000
When discriminating between unknown foreign languages, infants, young children, and adult listeners are able to make same-language/different-language discrimination judgments at better than chance levels. In these studies (Lorch & Meara, 1989; Mehler et al., 1988; Stockmal, 1995), foreign language samples have often been provided by different talkers, confounding voice characteristics and language characteristics. In Experiments 1 and 2, using the same talkers for different pairs of languages, we found that listeners were able to discriminate between languages they did not know, even when spoken by the same talker. That is, listeners were able to separate talker from language characteristics. Experiment 3 used multidimensional scaling to explore the bases of listener judgments. Listeners were attentive to prosodic properties and influenced by their familiarity with the test languages.