12th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Florence, Italy
August 27-31. 2011

On the Relationship Between Perceived Accentedness, Acoustic Similarity, and Processing Difficulty in Foreign-Accented Speech

Marijt J. Witteman (1), Andrea Weber (1), James M. McQueen (2)

(1) MPI for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands
(2) Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Foreign-accented speech is often perceived as more difficult to understand than native speech. What causes this potential difficulty, however, remains unknown. In the present study, we compared acoustic similarity and accent ratings of American-accented Dutch with a cross-modal priming task designed to measure online speech processing. We focused on two Dutch diphthongs: ui and ij. Though both diphthongs deviated from standard Dutch to varying degrees and perceptually varied in accent strength, native Dutch listeners recognized words containing the diphthongs easily. Thus, not all foreign-accented speech hinders comprehension, and acoustic similarity and perceived accentedness are not always predictive of processing difficulties.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Witteman, Marijt J. / Weber, Andrea / McQueen, James M. (2011): "On the relationship between perceived accentedness, acoustic similarity, and processing difficulty in foreign-accented speech", In INTERSPEECH-2011, 2229-2232.