Main content



Loading wiki pages...

Wiki Version:
Recent research shows that, regardless of social context, foreign accented speech causes a reduction in cognitive fluency, which was found to have a negative effect on credibility (Lev-Ari and Keysar 2010). These findings raise the question of the extent to which linguistic factors such as segmental or suprasegmental (i.e. intonation) properties may also play a part in foregin accent perception. In other words, is Italian intonation universally perceived as beautifully sounding, whereas Russian sounds are perceived as 'harsh' and 'guttural' (Lindemann, 2005)? To address this question, an experiment was designed following in part Winters & O'Brien (2013), with the goal of determining the relative contributions of suprasegmental and segmental features to the perception of foreign accented speech. We recorded sentences in English, spoken by native speakers of Russian and Italian (2 in each group, 1 male and 1 female) who exhibit strong foreign accents. We also recorded 2 native English speakers to serve as a control group. The recordings were manipulated to form 3 sets: (a) *Naturally produced sentences: *no manipulation (b) *Intonation only: *the sentences were filtered in Praat (Boersma & Weenink, 2020) with a low-pass Hann filter with a 400 Hz cut-off, preserving only aspects pertaining to the overall intonation, without any linguistic content in the form of intelligible words or sounds. *Segmental info only (for the Russian and Italian stimuli): *foreign pronunciation was preserved in terms of consonants and vowels, however, the prosodic aspects e.g., segmental duration, intonation resembled native English. Using these stimuli, counterbalanced lists of stimuli were created and presented to 58 participants residing in New York City (26 native speakers of English and 32 native speakers of other languages) online using Google Forms. The experimental task required rating of each utterance in terms of *pleasantness, honesty, self-confidence, *and *expressiveness *on a 1-5 Likert scale. The analysis consisted of computing mean scores for each variable, and determining the effect of *language*, *sentence type*, and *gender *using univariate ANOVAs. Our results underscore the role played by segmental properties, showing that having a foreign accent causes speakers to be perceived as less emotional and less pleasant, even when the intonation is native-like and even in a multicultural environment like New York City. We thus add to the body of work on foreign accent perception and the mechanisms underlying listeners' reactions.
OSF does not support the use of Internet Explorer. For optimal performance, please switch to another browser.
This website relies on cookies to help provide a better user experience. By clicking Accept or continuing to use the site, you agree. For more information, see our Privacy Policy and information on cookie use.

Start managing your projects on the OSF today.

Free and easy to use, the Open Science Framework supports the entire research lifecycle: planning, execution, reporting, archiving, and discovery.