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J Acoust Soc Am. 1984 Sep;76(3):692-707.

The detection of French accent by American listeners.


The five experiments presented here examine the ability of listeners to detect a foreign accent. Computer editing techniques were used to isolate progressively shorter excerpts of the English spoken by native speakers of American English and French. Native English-speaking listeners judged the speech samples in one- and two-interval forced-choiced tests. They were able to detect foreign accent equally well when presented with speech edited from phrases read in isolation and produced in a spontaneous story. The listeners accurately identified the French talkers (63%-95% of the time) no matter how short were the speech samples presented: entire phrases (e.g., "two little dogs"), syllables (/tu/ or /ti/), portions of syllables corresponding to the phonetic segments /t/,/i/,/u/, and even just the first 30 ms of "two" (roughly, the release burst of /t/). Both phonetically trained listeners familiar with French-accented English and unsophisticated listeners were able to accurately detect accent. These results suggest that listeners develop very detailed phonetic category prototypes against which to evaluate speech sounds occurring in their native language.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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