You are here: Home Publications The Effects of Talker Voice and Accent on Young Children's Speech Perception

The Effects of Talker Voice and Accent on Young Children's Speech Perception

Van Heugten, M., Bergmann, C., & Cristia, A. (2015). The Effects of Talker Voice and Accent on Young Children's Speech Perception. In S. Fuchs, D. Pape, C. Petrone, & P. Perrier (Eds.), Individual Differences in Speech Production and Perception (pp. 57-88). Bern: Peter Lang.
Within the first few years of life, children acquire many of the building blocks of their native language. This not only involves knowledge about the linguistic structure of spoken language, but also knowledge about the way in which this linguistic structure surfaces in their speech input. In this chapter, we review how infants and toddlers cope with differences between speakers and accents. Within the context of milestones in early speech perception, we examine how voice and accent characteristics are integrated during language processing, looking closely at the advantages and disadvantages of speaker and accent familiarity, surface-level deviation between two utterances, variability in the input, and prior speaker exposure. We conclude that although deviation from the child’s standard can complicate speech perception early in life, young listeners can overcome these additional challenges. This suggests that early spoken language processing is flexible and adaptive to the listening situation at hand.
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213

Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn