The effect of non-nativeness and background noise on lexical retuning

Drozdova, P., Van Hout, R., & Scharenborg, O. (2015). The effect of non-nativeness and background noise on lexical retuning. In Scottish consortium for ICPhS 2015, M. Wolters, J. Livingstone, B. Beattie, R. Smith, M. MacMahon, J. Stuart-Smith, & J. Scobbie (Eds.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2015). Glasgow: University of Glasgow.
Previous research revealed remarkable flexibility of native and non-native listeners’ perceptual system, i.e., native and non-native phonetic category boundaries can be quickly recalibrated in the face of ambiguous input. The present study investigates the limitations of the flexibility of the non-native perceptual system. In two lexically-guided perceptual learning experiments, Dutch listeners were exposed to a short story in English, where either all /l/ or all /ɹ/ sounds were replaced by an ambiguous [l/ɹ] sound. In the first experiment, the story was presented in clean, while in the second experiment, intermittent noise was added to the story, although never on the critical words. Lexically-guided perceptual learning was only observed in the clean condition. It is argued that the introduction of intermittent noise reduced the reliability of the evidence of hearing a particular word, which in turn blocked retuning of the phonetic categories.
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