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									                                                                                                                                                                               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
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • 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
                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
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                                                                                                                        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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