How much do visual cues help listeners in perceiving accented speech?
Samuel, Arthur G.
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ZHENG, Y., & SAMUEL, A. (2019). How much do visual cues help listeners in perceiving accented speech? Applied Psycholinguistics, 40(1), 93-109. doi:10.1017/S0142716418000462
It has been documented that lipreading facilitates the understanding of difficult speech, such as noisy speech and time-compressed speech. However, relatively little work has addressed the role of visual information in perceiving accented speech, another type of difficult speech. In this study, we specifically focus on accented word recognition. One hundred forty-two native English speakers made lexical decision judgments on English words or nonwords produced by speakers with Mandarin Chinese accents. The stimuli were presented as either as videos that were of a relatively far speaker or as videos in which we zoomed in on the speaker’s head. Consistent with studies of degraded speech, listeners were more accurate at recognizing accented words when they saw lip movements from the closer apparent distance. The effect of apparent distance tended to be larger under nonoptimal conditions: when stimuli were nonwords than words, and when stimuli were produced by a speaker who had a relatively strong accent. However, we did not find any influence of listeners’ prior experience with Chinese accented speech, suggesting that cross-talker generalization is limited. The current study provides practical suggestions for effective communication between native and nonnative speakers: visual information is useful, and it is more useful in some circumstances than others.