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Compensation for vocal tract characteristics across native and non-native languages

Sjerps, M. J., & Smiljanic, R. (2013). Compensation for vocal tract characteristics across native and non-native languages. Journal of Phonetics, 41, 145-155. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2013.01.005.
Perceptual compensation for speaker vocal tract properties was investigated in four groups of listeners: native speakers of English and native speakers of Dutch, native speakers of Spanish with low proficiency in English, and Spanish-English bilinguals. Listeners categorized targets on a [sofo] to [sufu] continuum. Targets were preceded by sentences that were manipulated to have either a high or a low F1 contour. All listeners performed the categorization task for targets that were preceded by Spanish, English and Dutch precursors. Results show that listeners from each of the four language backgrounds compensate for speaker vocal tract properties regardless of language-specific vowel inventory properties. Listeners also compensate when they listen to stimuli in another language. The results suggest that patterns of compensation are mainly determined by auditory properties of precursor sentences.
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