Speaker-independent factors affecting the perception of foreign accent in a second language

Susannah V. Levi, Stephen J. Winters, David B. Pisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research on foreign accent perception has largely focused on speaker-dependent factors such as age of learning and length of residence. Factors that are independent of a speaker's language learning history have also been shown to affect perception of second language speech. The present study examined the effects of two such factors - listening context and lexical frequency - on the perception of foreign-accented speech. Listeners rated foreign accent in two listening contexts: auditory-only, where listeners only heard the target stimuli, and auditory+orthography, where listeners were presented with both an auditory signal and an orthographic display of the target word. Results revealed that higher frequency words were consistently rated as less accented than lower frequency words. The effect of the listening context emerged in two interactions: the auditory+orthography context reduced the effects of lexical frequency, but increased the perceived differences between native and non-native speakers. Acoustic measurements revealed some production differences for words of different levels of lexical frequency, though these differences could not account for all of the observed interactions from the perceptual experiment. These results suggest that factors independent of the speakers' actual speech articulations can influence the perception of degree of foreign accent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2327-2338
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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