14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

L2 English Learners' Recognition of Words Spoken in Familiar versus Unfamiliar English Accents

Jia Ying, Jason A. Shaw, Catherine T. Best

University of Western Sydney, Australia

How do L2 learners cope with L2 accent variation? We developed predictions based upon the Perceptual Assimilation Model-L2 (PAM-L2) and tested them in an eye-tracking experiment using the visual world paradigm. L2-English learners in Australia with Chinese L1 were presented with words spoken in familiar Australian-accented English (AusE), and two unfamiliar accents: Jamaican Mesolect English (JaME) and Cockney-accented English (CknE). AusE and JaME differ primarily in vowel pronunciations, while CknE differs primarily in consonant pronunciations. Words were selected to elicit two types of perceptual assimilations of JaME and CknE phonemes to AusE: Category Goodness (CG) and Category Shifting (CS) assimilations. The Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM) predicts that, if the L2 learners have developed AusE categories, then CS differences should hinder spoken word recognition more than CG differences. Our results supported this prediction. For both unfamiliar accents, CS target words attracted more fixations to printed competitor words than did CG distracters.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ying, Jia / Shaw, Jason A. / Best, Catherine T. (2013): "L2 English learners' recognition of words spoken in familiar versus unfamiliar English accents", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 2108-2112.