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Measuring perceived accent difference using oddball paradigm: acoustic distance vs. familiarity
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This exploratory study investigates the relationship between acoustic distance and ERP amplitude: specifically, whether the distance between different pronunciations of the vowel /o/, investigated in terms of glide-weakening in American accents, is related to amplitude at the MMN and P3a time frames (here 150-250 and 250-350ms post-stimulus, respectively), as well as the possible “overriding” effect of accent exposure/familiarity. Using a multi-feature oddball paradigm, it was expected that the more acoustically different a pronunciation is from the standard, the higher the resulting amplitude will be for the ERP. Secondarily, this study aimed to see if this case would be especially clear in vowels marked as either dialectal or ‘non-native’.Following the oddball paradigm, five recordings of the word 'goat' were used as stimuli:General American served as standard, while Inland South, Inland North, and Swedish-accented were the main deviants, and New-England was added as a non-target. The vowel /o/ was used due to its amount of variation in pronunciation, and markedness as dialectal, and participants were instructed that they would hear an English word. Using Euclidean distance from the averaged 20% and 80% points of /o/'s F1/F2 coordinates (then normalized into Bark perceptual scale), acoustic distances were established between the recordings (which were synthesized from actual speech to match in duration, pitch, and volume). In terms of acoustic distance, Inland North was furthest from GenAm, Swedish slightly closer to GenAm but moresimilar to Inland North, and Southern was very similar to GenAm (but very distant from both Swedish and Inland North; see fig. 1).Participants in the preliminary study were American expats living in Sweden, from various regions in the USA who were all highly-mobile. Therefore, it was of interest whether ERP’s were affected more by acoustic distance of an accent to the standard, or the heightened exposure to Swedish-accented English. Initial results indicate a large difference between the perception of monophthongized /o/ and diphthongized /o/, as shown by a high P3a (see fig. 2).Inland North was the most different in terms of max amplitude at 250-350 ms, with Swedish second and Southern being closest to the standard. Most interestingly, the Swedish pronunciation yielded a less positive P3a than Inland North, even though it was of similar acoustic distance to the standard, and a more negative MMN, showing possible later processing of ‘familiar’ Swedish-accented English. While this study is only preliminary, it points in the direction of further research into the effect of language exposure on adaptation and perceptual learning vs. acoustic distance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
Languages and Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127020OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-127020DiVA: diva2:905113
Conference
Phonetics and Phonology in Europe, Cambridge, UK, June 29-30, 2015
Available from: 2016-02-21 Created: 2016-02-21 Last updated: 2016-11-30Bibliographically approved

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