Perceptual similarity of regional dialects of American English

Cynthia G. Clopper, Susannah V. Levi, David B. Pisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research on the perception of dialect variation has measured the perceptual similarity of talkers based on regional dialect using only indirect methods. In the present study, a paired comparison similarity ratings task was used to obtain direct measures of perceptual similarity. Naive listeners were asked to make explicit judgments about the similarity of a set of talkers based on regional dialect. The talkers represented four regional varieties of American English and both genders. Results revealed an additive effect of gender and dialect on mean similarity ratings and two primary dimensions of perceptual dialect similarity: geography (northern versus southern varieties) and dialect markedness (many versus few characteristic properties). The present findings are consistent with earlier research on the perception of dialect variation, as well as recent speech perception studies which demonstrate the integral role of talker gender in speech perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-574
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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