Auditory-Visual Speech Processing 2007 (AVSP2007)

Kasteel Groenendaal, Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlands
August 31 - September 3, 2007

Regional Accent Familiarity and Speechreading Performance

Amy Irwin, Sharon Thomas, Michael Pilling

MRC Institute of Hearing Research, University Park, Nottingham, UK

The effect of accent [pronunciation of speech sounds determined by a speakerís regional or national location] on auditory speech comprehension has been well documented, but research is lacking as to its effects on visual speech understanding. In order to address this, the present study examined the effect of regional accent variation on speechreading performance. The aim was to determine if familiarity with an accent would prove to be an advantage when speechreading, and if certain regional accents would be associated with a greater clarity of visual signal than others. The study examined both the identification of accent based on visual or auditory sentences and the effect of accent variation on auditory and visual speech comprehension. Of particular interest was the effect of accent on speechreading accuracy. The two British accents chosen for comparison were Nottingham and Glaswegian.

Results showed that accent discrimination is possible using only visual speech. Greater accuracy was achieved when participants differentiated between the accents based on auditory sentences, but with visual speech, performance was also greater than chance [p. > .05]. This suggests that the two accents have sufficiently distinct patterns of visual articulation and auditory pronunciation to allow participants to discriminate between them. Further, the participants visual and auditory speech recognition scores were adversely affected by the use of an unfamiliar accent, with keyword recognition accuracy being reduced. These findings both replicate previous findings on the effects of auditory accent, and indicate that accent can also impact the understanding of visual speech.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Irwin, Amy / Thomas, Sharon / Pilling, Michael (2007): "Regional accent familiarity and speechreading performance", In AVSP-2007, paper P11.