Listeners are able to classify talkers by regional dialect of their native language when provided with even short speech samples. However, the way in which American English listeners use segmental and prosodic information to make such decisions is largely unknown. This study used a free classification task to assess native American English listeners' ability to group together talkers from six major dialect regions of American English. Listeners residing in Ohio and Texas were provided with a sentence-long (experiment 1) or paragraph-long (experiment 2) speech sample produced by talkers from each of the six regions presented in one of three conditions: unmodified, monotonized (i.e., flattened F0), and low-pass filtered (i.e., spectral information above 400 Hz removed). In both experiments, listeners in the unmodified and monotonized conditions made more accurate groupings, reflecting their reliance on segmental properties for classifying regional variation. Accuracy was highest for Northern and Western talkers (experiment 1) and Mid-Atlantic talkers (experiment 2). Listeners with experience with multiple dialects as a result of geographic mobility did not show increased accuracy, suggesting a complex relationship between linguistic experience and the perception of available acoustic cues to socioindexical variation.
Acoustic cues and linguistic experience as factors in regional dialect classification
Steven Alcorn, Kirsten Meemann, Cynthia G. Clopper, Rajka Smiljanic; Acoustic cues and linguistic experience as factors in regional dialect classification. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 January 2020; 147 (1): 657–670. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0000551
Download citation file: