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Share Paper 3195

Measuring Foreign Accent in Spanish: How Much Does VOT Really Matter?
Elena Schoonmaker-Gates
95-105 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study investigated voice-onset time (VOT) duration as a cue of degree of foreign accent, using speech manipulation to determine to what extent native and nonnative listeners rely on VOT when they assess degree of foreign accent in Spanish. In the first experiment, a total of 186 listeners heard and rated native and nonnative utterances in which voiceless stop VOT durations had been made both longer and shorter through digital speech manipulation. In the second experiment, 74 nonnative listeners heard and rated stimuli in which only one instance of VOT had been manipulated to examine the role of place of articulation on VOT in foreign accent perception. The results of these studies show that both native and nonnative listeners used VOT when they assessed degree of foreign accent in Spanish. Furthermore, nonnative listeners rated longer VOTs as more accented and shorter VOTs as less accented regardless of place of articulation of the stop. These results add weight to previous claims that VOT significantly contributes to the perception of a foreign accent, providing a clearer picture of its role and confirming that language learners perceive and associate voiceless stop VOT with foreign accent in Spanish.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Romance Phonology
edited by Erik W. Willis, Pedro Martín Butragueño, and Esther Herrera Zendejas
Table of contents
Printed edition: $240.00