Effects of acoustic-phonetic detail on cross-language speech production

Colin Wilson, Lisa Davidson, Sean Martin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Nonnative sounds and sequences are systematically adapted in both perception and production. For example, American English speakers often modify illegal word-initial clusters by inserting a vocalic transition between the two consonants (e.g., (/bdagu/→[be{schwa}dagu]). Previous work on such modifications has for the most part focused on relatively abstract properties of the nonnative structures, such as their phonemic content and whether they conform to sonority sequencing principles. The current study finds that fine-grained phonetic details of the stimulus can be equally important for predicting cross-language production patterns. Several acoustic-phonetic properties were manipulated to create stimulus variants that are phonemically identical (i.e., exhibit non-contrastive variation) in the target language (Russian). In a shadowing experiment, English speakers' correct productions and detailed error patterns were significantly modulated by the acoustic manipulations. The results highlight the role of perception in accounting for cross-language production, and establish limits on the perceptual repair of nonnative sound sequences by phonetic decoding.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-24
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Memory and Language
    Issue numberC
    StatePublished - 2014


    • Cross-language speech production
    • Phonetic decoding
    • Phonetic detail
    • Phonotactics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Artificial Intelligence


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