5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

The Perception Of Nativeness: Variable Speakers And Flexible Listeners

Duncan Markham

Deakin University, Australia

Tests of foreign accent usually treat native listeners as reliable providers of accentedness ratings, and pay too little heed to task-specific effects on non-native speakers' performance. This paper details a number of factors which in fact influence native listeners' perceptions, and the native-like behaviour of non-native speakers' productions, based on the results of a large study of phonetic performance in second language learners. Listeners were observed to vary, at times considerably, in their perception of accent, depending on context, and type of stimulus, and at times showed distinctly idiosyncratic scoring patterns. Listeners' reactions to speaker voice pathology, mixed dialect pronunciation, and artefacts of read speech are discussed, and the effects of using different types of scoring system are examined.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Markham, Duncan (1998): "The perception of nativeness: variable speakers and flexible listeners", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0424.