ISCA Archive Interspeech 2006
ISCA Archive Interspeech 2006

The role of prosody in the perception of US native English accents

Ayako Ikeno, John H. L. Hansen

A wide range of aspects are contained within the speech signal which provides information concerning a particular speaker's characteristics. Accent is a linguistic trait of speaker identity. It indicates the speaker's language and social background. The goal of this study is to provide perceptual assessment of accent variation in US native English. The main issue considered is how different components of prosody affect accent perception. This perceptual study employed an ASHA certified acoustic sound booth using 73 listeners (53 male, 20 female). The results from these perceptual experiments indicate the importance of prosody in combination with availability of utterance content via speech signal or transcripts. The trends also indicate that listeners' decisions are influenced by conceptual representation of prototypical accent characteristics, such as "people from New York talk fast." These observations suggest that listeners use both bottom-up processing, based on the acoustic input, and top-town processing, based on their conceptual representation of prototypical accent characteristics. Those processes are multi-dimensional in that listeners use utterance content (e.g., meaning or comprehensibility) as well as accent characteristics in the acoustic input even though our experiment focuses on pronunciation features and does not include word selections that are dialect dependent. These findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the cognitive aspects of accent variation, and its applications for speech technology, such as accent classification for speaker identification or speech recognition.

doi: 10.21437/Interspeech.2006-141

Cite as: Ikeno, A., Hansen, J.H.L. (2006) The role of prosody in the perception of US native English accents. Proc. Interspeech 2006, paper 1437-Mon2CaP.10, doi: 10.21437/Interspeech.2006-141

  author={Ayako Ikeno and John H. L. Hansen},
  title={{The role of prosody in the perception of US native English accents}},
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2006},
  pages={paper 1437-Mon2CaP.10},