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Phonetica. 2014;71(1):4-21. doi: 10.1159/000356237. Epub 2014 Jun 5.

Perceptual assimilation and discrimination of non-native vowel contrasts.

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  • 1School of Social Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, NSW, Australia.


Research on language-specific tuning in speech perception has focused mainly on consonants, while that on non-native vowel perception has failed to address whether the same principles apply. Therefore, non-native vowel perception was investigated here in light of relevant theoretical models: the Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM) and the Natural Referent Vowel (NRV) framework. American-English speakers completed discrimination and native language assimilation (categorization and goodness rating) tests on six nonnative vowel contrasts. Discrimination was consistent with PAM assimilation types, but asymmetries predicted by NRV were only observed for single-category assimilations, suggesting that perceptual assimilation might modulate the effects of vowel peripherality on non-native vowel perception.

© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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