Sentence Durations and Accentedness Judgments Z.S. Bond, Verna Stockmat, Dace Markus Ohio University, University of Latvia ABSTRACT RESULTS • Major (1987) found that native speakers could distinguish Brazilian Talkers in a second language can frequently be identified as FIGURE 1 Portuguese accented English from American English using Both Latvian and Russian listeners speaking with a foreign accent. It is not clear to what degree a pronunciations of two contrasting vowels, // and /ae/. who knew the target language could foreign accent represents specific deviations from a target identify talkers as native or non-native language vs. more general characteristics. We examined the Native listeners employ multiple sources of information, from paralinguistic speakers with a high degree of identifications of native and non-native talkers by listeners with to phonetic, in making foreign accent judgments. accuracy. various amount of knowledge of the target language. Native and American listeners identified accurately non-native speakers of Latvian provided materials. All the non- • Cunningham-Andersson and Engstrand (1989) found that the more native speakers and Russians who segmental deviations in a passage, the more likely listeners are to indicated that their proficiency in native talkers spoke Russian as their first language and were identify the speech as accented. Latvian was low. They failed to identify long-term residents of Latvia. A listening test, containing • Magen (1989) found that listeners were sensitive to a variety of relatively high proficiency Russian sentences excerpted from a short recorded passage, was presented segmental and suprasegmental properties such as syllable structure, talkers. to three groups of listeners: native speakers of Latvian, Russians vowel and consonant quality, and stress placement. for whom Latvian was a second language, and Americans with no • Munro (1995) reports that listeners were able to identify foreign- FIGURE 2 knowledge of either of the two languages. The listeners were accented speech even without clear information about segmentals. Latvian listeners gave native Latvians asked to judge whether each utterance was produced by a native • Munro and Derwing (2001) found that listeners could make reliable the highest evaluations and judgments of accentedness based on speaking rate. distinguished between low-proficiency or non-native talker. The Latvians identified the non-native and high-proficiency Russian talkers. talkers very accurately, 88%. The Russians were somewhat less accurate, 83%. The American listeners were least accurate, but Russian listeners gave high evaluations to Russians and relatively still identified the non-native talkers at above chance levels, 62%. low evaluations to Latvians. Sentence durations correlated METHOD LISTENING MATERIALS CONCLUSION OBJECTIVE • Sentences read by ten ethnic Russian talkers and by ten native Latvians. Russian talkers represented different levels of proficiency. Fluency provides a basis of judgment for both native and non-native listeners. Talkers were both males and females, ranging in age from retirees to Our objective was to vary listener knowledge of the target language in order high school students. to obtain an assessment of language-specific vs. universal indicators of Phonological knowledge is available only to speakers of a language. • Two sentences for each talker. The forty sentences were randomized accentedness. on a test recording; practice items were included. The Russians’ imperfect phonological knowledge may have lead to divergent Latvian was the target second language; listeners evaluated speech samples evaluations. produced either by native speakers or by ethnic Russians for whom Latvian PROCEDURE is a second language. • Thirty-one monolingual Americans, students at Ohio University evaluated each speech sample as produced by a native or non-native REFERENCES INTRODUCTION talker. Cunningham-Andersson, Una and Olle Engstrand, Perceived strength and identify of foreign accent in • Twenty monolingual Americans from the same population evaluated Swedish, Phonetica 46 (1989) 138-154. Flege, James Emil, The detection of French accent by American listeners, Jl. of the Acoustical Society of Native listeners are extremely accurate in discriminating between native and each talker on a 7-point scale. America 76 (1984) 692-707. non-native speech even from minimal information. For example: Magen, Harriet S. The perception of foreign-accented speech, Journal of Phonetics 26 (1998) 381-400. Major, R., Phonological similarity, markedness, and rate of second language acquisition, Studies in Second • Scovel (1995) reports greater than 95% accuracy in distinguishing • Twelve ethnic Russians and 28 Latvians, long-term residents of Riga. Language Acquisition 9 (1987) 63-82. native from non-native speech samples. For each speech sample, the listeners tested in Latvia indicated Munro, Murray J., Nonsegmental factors in foreign accent: Ratings of filtered speech, Studies in Second whether they thought the talker was a Latvian or a Russian and Language Acquisition 17 (1995) 17-34. • Flege (1984) found that listeners were able to recognize accented Munro, Murray J. and Tracey M. Derwing, Modeling perceptions of the accentedness and comprehensibility Template design only ©copyright 2008 • Ohio University • Media Production • 740.597-2521 • Spring Quarter spoken samples of their native language within 30 ms, basing evaluated speech samples on a 7-point scale of L2 speech: The role of speaking rate, Studies in Second Language Acquisition 23 (2001) 451-468. their judgments on phonetic cues present in fragments of Scovel, Thomas. Differentiation, recognition, and identification in the discrimination of foreign accents (pp. 169-181). In J. Archibald, ed., Phonological Acquisition and Phonological Theory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence syllables. Erlbaum, 1995. Research for this project was supported by a grant from the International Research & Exchanges Board, with funds provided by the US Department of State (Title VII).
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