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Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(12):1024-9. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.631680. Epub 2012 Feb 24.

Accent on communication: the impact of regional and foreign accent on comprehension in adults with aphasia.

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Language and Communication, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, London, UK.



This study explored whether an unfamiliar non-native accent, differing in both segmental and prosodic features was more difficult for individuals with aphasia to understand than an unfamiliar native accent, which differed in segmental features only.


Comprehension, which was determined by accuracy judgments on true/false sentences, and speed of response were assessed in the following three conditions: a familiar Southern Standard British English (SSBE) accent, an unfamiliar native Grimsby accent, and an unfamiliar non-native Chinese accent. Thirty-four English speaking adults (17 people with and 17 people without aphasia) served as listeners for this study.


All listeners made significantly more errors in the unfamiliar non-native accent, although this difficulty was more marked for those with aphasia. While there was no affect of speaker accent on the response times of listeners with aphasia, listeners without aphasia were significantly slower with the unfamiliar non-native accent.


The results indicate that non-native accented speech affects comprehension even on simple tasks in ideal listening conditions. The findings suggest that speaker accent, especially accents varying in both segmental and prosodic features, can be a barrier to successful interactions between non-native accented speakers and native listeners, particularly those with aphasia.

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