On the relationship between perceived foreigness, accentedness and speech comprehension under clear and adverse listening conditions

Abstract

Social interaction involves the simultaneous uptake of a range of linguistic and nonlinguistic information. In a seminal study, Rubin (1992) has shown that a lecture spoken by a native speaker of Standard American English presented along with a photograph of an ethnically Asian instructor affected comprehension score and accentedness ratings more negatively as compared to the same lecture and speaker presented with a Caucasian instructor. Here we asked whether such effects could be observed in a multicultural environment, with a lot of interactions with different ethnicities and non-native speakers. Furthermore, we investigated how the effect could be modulated by the quality of the speech input (clear compared to noisy speech). The results showed that ethnicity affects accentedness ratings only under adverse listening conditions and that comprehension scores do not depend on ethnicity of the speaker. Thus, the effect of nonlinguistic information on linguistic processing is constrained in multicultural settings.


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