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Accent on communication: the impact of regional and foreign accent on comprehension in adults with aphasia

Bruce, C; To, C-T; Newton, C; (2012) Accent on communication: the impact of regional and foreign accent on comprehension in adults with aphasia. Disability and Rehabilitation , 34 (12) pp. 1024-1029. 10.3109/09638288.2011.631680. Green open access

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Abstract

PURPOSE: This study explored whether an unfamiliar non-native accent, differing in both segmental and prosodic features was more difficult for individuals with aphasia to understand than an unfamiliar native accent, which differed in segmental features only. METHOD: Comprehension, which was determined by accuracy judgments on true/false sentences, and speed of response were assessed in the following three conditions: a familiar Southern Standard British English (SSBE) accent, an unfamiliar native Grimsby accent, and an unfamiliar non-native Chinese accent. Thirty-four English speaking adults (17 people with and 17 people without aphasia) served as listeners for this study. RESULTS: All listeners made significantly more errors in the unfamiliar non-native accent, although this difficulty was more marked for those with aphasia. While there was no affect of speaker accent on the response times of listeners with aphasia, listeners without aphasia were significantly slower with the unfamiliar non-native accent. CONCLUSION: The results indicate that non-native accented speech affects comprehension even on simple tasks in ideal listening conditions. The findings suggest that speaker accent, especially accents varying in both segmental and prosodic features, can be a barrier to successful interactions between non-native accented speakers and native listeners, particularly those with aphasia. IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION: Aphasia is an acquired language disorder, often occurring after stroke, which affects an individual’s understanding and use of language. People with and without aphasia find an unfamiliar accent more difficult to understand than a familiar accent, and these problems are more significant for those with aphasia. Problems are greater when the accent differs from the familiar accent by both individual sounds and prosody. Health professionals need to be aware that their accent is likely to affect an individual’s performance on assessments as well as their understanding of information, and could consider the use of other mediums to present information (e.g. drawing) and minimizing other variables that might compromise comprehension (e.g. background noise).

Type: Article
Title: Accent on communication: the impact of regional and foreign accent on comprehension in adults with aphasia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2011.631680
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/09638288.2011.631680
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: Rehabilitation, sci, rehabilitation, ssci, accent, aphasia, comprehension, auditory comprehension, hearing-loss, speech, intelligibility, english, perception
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1555675
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