Strength of British English accents in altered listening conditions.
KeywordsAdult, Feedback, Female, Great Britain, Humans, Language, Male, Middle Aged, Phonetics, Speech Perception, Speech Production Measurement, Verbal Behavior
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AbstractThis work is concerned with the processing or representational level at which accent forms learned early in life can change and with whether alteration to a speaker's auditory environment can elicit an original accent. In Experiment 1, recordings were made of an equal number of (1) speakers living in the home counties (HC) of Britain (around the London conurbation) who claimed to have retained the accent of the region that they originally had come from, (2) speakers who stated that they had lost their regional accent and acquired an HC accent, and (3) native HC speakers. They read two texts in a normal listening environment. Listeners rated the similarity in accent between each of these texts and all the other texts. The results showed that in the normal listening conditions, the speakers who had lost their accent were rated as being more similar to HC English speakers than to those speakers from the same region who had retained their accent. In Experiment 2, recordings of the same speakers under frequency-shifted and delayed auditory feedback, as well as the normal listening conditions used earlier, were rated in order to see whether the manipulations of listening environment would elicit the speaker's original accent. Listeners rated similarity of accent in a sample of speech recorded under normal listening against a sample read by another speaker in one of the altered listening conditions. When listening condition was altered, the speakers who had lost their original accent were rated as more similar to those who had retained their accent. It is concluded that accent differences can be elicited by altering listening environment because the speech systems of speakers who have lost their accent are more vulnerable than those of speakers who have not changed their original accent.