Previous research has shown that listeners’ perception of pitch peaks and valleys is asymmetrical. Their ability to discriminate pitch height and integrate temporal and pitch information is reduced for valleys compared to peaks. Further, listeners are more likely to associate high pitch and pitch peaks with prominence compared to low pitch and valleys. However, it is unclear whether the perceptual asymmetry is influenced by listeners’ linguistic experience. The present study examined the perception by native speakers of English in England, Belfast (Northern Ireland) and Glasgow (Scotland). These varieties were chosen because unlike Standard British English where prominent syllables are typically associated with a pitch rise and high pitch, Belfast and Glaswegian varieties often associate prominent syllables with low pitch. The experimental results showed an effect of listeners’ language variety on their discrimination of both pitch height and prominence. In particular, Belfast and Glasgow listeners’ prominence discrimination was reduced compared to listeners in England for both peaks and valleys. This result may be linked to the shallow ‘prominence gradients’ in their languages and the phonetic details of low accents.

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