UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Adaptation to Social-Linguistic Associations in Audio-Visual Speech Babel, Molly


Listeners entertain hypotheses about how social characteristics affect a speaker’s pronunciation. While some of these hypotheses may be representative of a demographic, thus facilitating spoken language processing, others may be erroneous stereotypes that impede comprehension. As a case in point, listeners’ stereotypes of language and ethnicity pairings in varieties of North American English can improve intelligibility and comprehension, or hinder these processes. Using audio-visual speech this study examines how listeners adapt to speech in noise from four speakers who are representative of selected accent-ethnicity associations in the local speech community: an Asian English-L1 speaker, a white English-L1 speaker, an Asian English-L2 speaker, and a white English-L2 speaker. The results suggest congruent accent-ethnicity associations facilitate adaptation, and that the mainstream local accent is associated with a more diverse speech community.

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CC BY 4.0