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Title: Perceptual learning of context-sensitive phonetic detail
Author: Barden, Katharine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2712 3852
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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Although familiarity with a talker or accent is known to facilitate perception, it is not clear what underlies this phenomenon. Previous research has focused primarily on whether listeners can learn to associate novel phonetic characteristics with low-level units such as features or phonemes. However, this neglects the potential role of phonetic information at many other levels of representation. To address this shortcoming, this thesis investigated perceptual learning of systematic phonetic detail relating to higher levels of linguistic structure, including prosodic, grammatical and morphological contexts. Furthermore, in contrast to many previous studies, this research used relatively natural stimuli and tasks, thus maximising its relevance to perceptual learning in ordinary listening situations. This research shows that listeners can update their phonetic representations in response to incoming information and its relation to linguistic-structural context. In addition, certain patterns of systematic phonetic detail were more learnable than others. These findings are used to inform an account of how new information is integrated with prior experience in speech processing, within a framework that emphasises the importance of phonetic detail at multiple levels of representation.
Supervisor: Hawkins, Sarah Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Perceptual learning ; Accent adaptation ; Episodic models ; Speech perception ; Phonetic