Tashlhiyt Berber is known for having typologically unusual word-initial phonological contrasts, specifically, word-initial singleton-geminate minimal pairs (e.g., sin vs ssin) and sequences of consonants that violate the sonority sequencing principle (e.g., non-rising sonority sequences: fsin). The current study investigates the role of a listener-oriented speaking style on the perceptual enhancement of these rarer phonological contrasts. It examines the perception of word-initial singleton, geminate, and complex onsets in Tashlhiyt Berber across clear and casual speaking styles by native and naive listeners. While clear speech boosts the discriminability of pairs containing singleton-initial words for both listener groups, only native listeners performed better in discriminating between initial singleton-geminate contrasts in clear speech. Clear speech did not improve perception for lexical contrasts containing a non-rising-sonority consonant cluster for either listener group. These results are discussed in terms of how clear speech can inform phonological typology and the role of phonetic enhancement in language-universal vs language-specific speech perception.

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