Socio-indexical cues and paralinguistic information are often beneficial to speech processing as this information assists listeners in parsing the speech stream. Associations that particular populations speak in a certain speech style can, however, make it such that socio-indexical cues have a cost. In this study, native speakers of Canadian English who identify as Chinese Canadian and White Canadian read sentences that were presented to listeners in noise. Half of the sentences were presented with a visual-prime in the form of a photo of the speaker and half were presented in control trials with fixation crosses. Sentences produced by Chinese Canadians showed an intelligibility cost in the face-prime condition, whereas sentences produced by White Canadians did not. In an accentedness rating task, listeners rated White Canadians as less accented in the face-prime trials, but Chinese Canadians showed no such change in perceived accentedness. These results suggest a misalignment between an expected and an observed speech signal for the face-prime trials, which indicates that social information about a speaker can trigger linguistic associations that come with processing benefits and costs.

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