Exploring the Use of an Artificial Accent of English to Assess Phonetic Learning in Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers

Laura Spinu, Jiwon Hwang, Nadya Pincus, Mariana Vasilita


We designed a production experiment to explore the relatively controversial phenomenon of the bilingual advantage. Our focus is on an understudied aspect of bilingual cognition, specifically phonetic learning. We presented 36 participants (17 monolinguals and 19 early bilinguals) living in New York City with an artificially constructed accent of English, differing in four ways from Standard American English. More precisely, the novel accent included a vocalic change (diphthongization of the open-mid front unrounded vowel), consonantal change (tapping of intervocalic liquids), syllable structure change (epenthesis in voiceless s-clusters) and suprasegmental change (a novel intonation pattern in tag questions). After recording their baseline accents, the participants first completed a training task, in which they listened to and then directly imitated sentences heard in the novel accent, and then a testing task, in which they were asked to read the baseline sentences in the accent they had just learned in the absence of any audio prompts. In this paper, we present acoustic results with diphthongization and tag question intonation. Our findings replicate the previously observed bilingual advantage in phonetic learning across the board and extend it to novel learning circumstances.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2783

Cite as: Spinu, L., Hwang, J., Pincus, N., Vasilita, M. (2020) Exploring the Use of an Artificial Accent of English to Assess Phonetic Learning in Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers. Proc. Interspeech 2020, 2377-2381, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2783.


@inproceedings{Spinu2020,
  author={Laura Spinu and Jiwon Hwang and Nadya Pincus and Mariana Vasilita},
  title={{Exploring the Use of an Artificial Accent of English to Assess Phonetic Learning in Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2020},
  pages={2377--2381},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2783},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2783}
}