Phonotactics vs. phonetic cues in native and non-native listening: Dutch and Korean listeners' perception of Dutch and English

We investigated how listeners of two unrelated languages, Dutch and Korean, process phonotactically legitimate and illegitimate sounds spoken in Dutch and American English. To Dutch listeners, unreleased word-final stops are phonotactically illegal because word-final stops in Dutch are generally released in isolation, but to Korean listeners, released final stops are illegal because word-final stops are never released in Korean. Two phoneme monitoring experiments showed a phonotactic effect: Dutch listeners detected released stops more rapidly than unreleased stops whereas the reverse was true for Korean listeners. Korean listeners with English stimuli detected released stops more accurately than unreleased stops, however, suggesting that acoustic-phonetic cues associated with released stops improve detection accuracy. We propose that in non-native speech perception, phonotactic legitimacy in the native language speeds up phoneme recognition, the richness of acousticphonetic cues improves listening accuracy, and familiarity with the non-native language modulates the relative influence of these two factors.
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