UBC Undergraduate Research

The Benefit of One’s Own Voice in Word Recognition in Cantonese-English Bilinguals Cheung, Sarah


In the domain of voice processing, a large body of evidence suggests that people process their own voices differently from others’ voices (Hughes & Harrison, 2013; Mitterer et al., 2020; Peng et al., 2019) and a recent study suggests this difference in perception may translate into an advantage in word recognition when listening to one’s own voice (Eger & Reinisch, 2019). This self-voice benefit has yet to be examined in a bilingual population, so the current study provides a first look into the perception performance of Cantonese-English bilinguals hearing their own voice compared to others’ voices. Moreover, this study aims to investigate whether this advantage exists when listeners lack the expected cues for self-identification. In this virtual experiment, female Cantonese-English bilinguals recorded themselves producing a set of minimal pairs containing difficult Cantonese contrasts. A subset of these minimal pairs were selected as stimuli for the following perception task. Speakers were grouped according to how acoustically contrastive their productions of each minimal pair were and these groupings were used to design personalized experiments for each subject, featuring their own voice and the voices of their group members. The perception task was a two-alternative forced-choice lexical identification paradigm in which participants heard isolated Cantonese words and were required to select the picture corresponding to the word they heard. The audio stimuli for this task was manipulated using the Change-Gender function in Praat (Boersma & Weenink, 2020), which was intended to disguise speaker identity. Participants’ language background information was collected through a multilingual language questionnaire. The results of this study provides support for the presence of a benefit for self-produced speech regardless of whether or not participants explicitly recognized their own voices.

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