Previous research has reported stress "deafness" for languages with predictable stress, like French, contrary to languages with nonpredictable stress, like Spanish. The contrastive nature of stress appears to inhibit stress "deafness", but segmental and/or suprasegmental cues may also enhance stress discrimination. In this study we carried out two experiments aiming to investigate stress perception in European Portuguese (EP), a language with non-predictable stress that utilizes duration and vowel reduction as main cues to stress. We used nonsense words that differed only in stress location, thus removing vowel reduction as a cue to stress. Experiment 1 was an ABX discrimination task. Experiment 2 was a sequence recall task. In both experiments, the stress contrast condition was compared with a phoneme control condition, in nuclear and post-nuclear position. Results of both experiments strongly suggest a stress "deafness" effect in EP. Despite its variable nature, word stress is hardly perceived by EP native-speakers in the absence of vowel reduction. These findings have implications for claims on prosodic-based cross-linguistic perception of word stress in the absence of vowel quality, and for stress "deafness" as a consequence of a predictable stress grammar.
Bibliographic reference. Correia, Susana / Frota, Sónia / Butler, Joseph / Vigário, Marina (2013): "Word stress perception in European Portuguese", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 267-271.