7th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

September 16-20, 2002
Denver, Colorado, USA

Comprehension of Non-Native Speech: Inaccurate Phoneme Processing and Activation of Lexical Competitors

Mirjam Broersma

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands

Native speakers of Dutch with English as a second language and native speakers of English participated in an English lexical decision experiment. Phonemes in real words were replaced by others from which they are hard to distinguish for Dutch listeners. Non-native listeners judged the resulting near-words more often as a word than native listeners. This not only happened when the phonemes that were exchanged did not exist as separate phonemes in the native language Dutch, but also when phoneme pairs that do exist in Dutch were used in word-final position, where they are not distinctive in Dutch. In an English bimodal priming experiment with similar groups of participants, word pairs were used which differed in one phoneme. These phonemes were hard to distinguish for the non-native listeners. Whereas in native listening both words inhibited each other, in non-native listening presentation of one word led to unresolved competition between both words. The results suggest that inaccurate phoneme processing by non-native listeners leads to the activation of spurious lexical competitors.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Broersma, Mirjam (2002): "Comprehension of non-native speech: inaccurate phoneme processing and activation of lexical competitors", In ICSLP-2002, 261-264.