Relative Salience of Speech Rhythm and Speech Rate on Perceived Foreign Accent in a Second Language
Busa, Maria Grazia
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Polyanskaya, L., Ordin, M., Busa, M.G. (2017). Relative Salience of Speech Rhythm and Speech Rate on Perceived Foreign Accent in a Second Language. Language and Speech, 60(3), 333-355. Doi: 10.1177/0023830916648720
We investigated the independent contribution of speech rate and speech rhythm to perceived foreign accent. To address this issue we used a resynthesis technique that allows neutralizing segmental and tonal idiosyncrasies between identical sentences produced by French learners of English at different proficiency levels and maintaining the idiosyncrasies pertaining to prosodic timing patterns. We created stimuli that (1) preserved the idiosyncrasies in speech rhythm while controlling for the differences in speech rate between the utterances; (2) preserved the idiosyncrasies in speech rate while controlling for the differences in speech rhythm between the utterances; and (3) preserved the idiosyncrasies both in speech rate and speech rhythm. All the stimuli were created in intoned (with imposed intonational contour) and flat (with monotonized, constant F0) conditions. The original and the resynthesized sentences were rated by native speakers of English for degree of foreign accent. We found that both speech rate and speech rhythm influence the degree of perceived foreign accent, but the effect of speech rhythm is larger than that of speech rate. We also found that intonation enhances the perception of fine differences in rhythmic patterns but reduces the perceptual salience of fine differences in speech rate.