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Evaluations of Foreign Accented Speech: Subjective Bias or Speech Signal Characteristics?

Thomson, RI; Isaacs, T; (2022) Evaluations of Foreign Accented Speech: Subjective Bias or Speech Signal Characteristics? In: Jarosz, A and Sardegna, V, (eds.) Theoretical and practical perspectives on English pronunciation teaching and research. (pp. 27-44). Springer: Cham, Switzerland. (In press).

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Abstract

It is often reported that native speakers negatively evaluate personality characteristics of second language (L2) speakers on the basis of their accent. Researchers have frequently concluded that such judgements result from implicit bias on the part of listeners, for whom an L2 accent triggers stereotypes about the ethnic or racial origin of the speaker. Within this research paradigm, little attention has been paid to quantifiable features of the speech signal that may also contribute to negative evaluations of accented speakers, independent of their ethnic or racial origins. A more detailed understanding of listener reactions to foreign accented speech, and the underlying linguistic variables that influence those reactions, can reveal complementary contributions of speakers and listeners to personal interactions. In this chapter, we report results from an empirical study in which 24 native-speaking undergraduate students rated monologic speech samples, produced by 36 L2 English speakers (18 Mandarin, 18 Slavic), for perceived fluency, comprehensibility, friendliness, intelligence, and listeners’ comfort interacting with each speaker. Relationships between listener ratings, and quantitative speech measures were examined across speakers, and as a function of speakers’ language background and speaking task. Results indicate that quantifiable features of L2 speech and task type influence reactions to foreign-accented speech.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Evaluations of Foreign Accented Speech: Subjective Bias or Speech Signal Characteristics?
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-98218-8_3
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-98218-8_3
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Accent discrimination, L2 speech, Foreign accent, Comprehensibility, Social dimensions of accent, Stereotyping
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10140974
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