L2 voice recognition: The role of speaker-, listener-, and stimulus-related factors

Drozdova, P., Van Hout, R., & Scharenborg, O. (2017). L2 voice recognition: The role of speaker-, listener-, and stimulus-related factors. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 142(5), 3058-3068. doi:10.1121/1.5010169.
Previous studies examined various factors influencing voice recognition and learning with mixed results. The present study investigates the separate and combined contribution of these various speaker-, stimulus-, and listener-related factors to voice recognition. Dutch listeners, with arguably incomplete phonological and lexical knowledge in the target language, English, learned to recognize the voice of four native English speakers, speaking in English, during four-day training. Training was successful and listeners' accuracy was shown to be influenced by the acoustic characteristics of speakers and the sound composition of the words used in the training, but not by lexical frequency of the words, nor the lexical knowledge of the listeners or their phonological aptitude. Although not conclusive, listeners with a lower working memory capacity seemed to be slower in learning voices than listeners with a higher working memory capacity. The results reveal that speaker-related, listener-related, and stimulus-related factors accumulate in voice recognition, while lexical information turns out not to play a role in successful voice learning and recognition. This implies that voice recognition operates at the prelexical processing level.
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