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Title: Cross-language acoustic and perceptual similarity of vowels : the role of listeners' native accents
Author: Williams, Daniel P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 2693
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2013
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Vowel inventories vary across languages in terms of the phonological vowel categories within them and the phonetic properties of individual vowels. The same also holds across different accents of a language. The four studies in this project address the role of listeners’ native accents in the cross-language acoustic and perceptual similarity of vowels. Study I explores the acoustic similarity of Northern Standard Dutch (NSD) vowels to the vowels in two accents of British English, namely Standard Southern British English (SSBE) and Sheffield English (SE), and demonstrates that some NSD vowels are acoustically most similar to different SSBE and SE vowels and that other NSD vowels differ in the degree of acoustic similarity to SSBE and SE vowels. Study II examines how SSBE and SE listeners use spectral properties to identify English monophthongs and finds that SSBE and SE listeners differ on some monophthongs, broadly in line with the spectral differences between naturally produced SSBE and SE vowels. Study III investigates SSBE and SE listeners’ discrimination accuracy of five NSD vowel contrasts, which cause British English learners of Dutch perceptual problems, and shows that SE listeners are generally less accurate than SSBE listeners. Study IV tests SSBE and SE listeners’ perceptual similarity of NSD vowels to English vowels and reveals that SSBE and SE listeners differ on some NSD vowels. The present findings demonstrate the influence of listeners’ differential linguistic experience on speech perception and underscore the importance of accounting for listeners’ particular native accents in cross-language studies.
Supervisor: Vismans, Roel ; Howard, Sara Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available