Rapid and long-lasting adaptation to foreign-accented speech [Abstract]

Witteman, M. J., Weber, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2010). Rapid and long-lasting adaptation to foreign-accented speech [Abstract]. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128, 2486.
In foreign-accented speech, listeners have to handle noticeable deviations from the standard pronunciation of a target language. Three cross-modal priming experiments investigated how short- and long-term experiences with a foreign accent influence word recognition by native listeners. In experiment 1, German-accented words were presented to Dutch listeners who had either extensive or limited prior experience with German-accented Dutch. Accented words either contained a diphthong substitution that deviated acoustically quite largely from the canonical form (huis [hys], "house", pronounced as [hoys]), or that deviated acoustically to a lesser extent (lijst [lst], "list", pronounced as [lst]). The mispronunciations never created lexical ambiguity in Dutch. While long-term experience facilitated word recognition for both types of substitutions, limited experience facilitated recognition only of words with acoustically smaller deviations. In experiment 2, Dutch listeners with limited experience listened to the German speaker for 4 min before participating in the cross-modal priming experiment. The results showed that speaker-specific learning effects for acoustically large deviations can be obtained already after a brief exposure, as long as the exposure contains evidence of the deviations. Experiment 3 investigates whether these short-term adaptation effects for foreign-accented speech are speaker-independent.
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