The benefit of phonetic variation in the perception of accented speech
In this project, we are examining effects of linguistic and social factors in the perception of spoken words and how these effects interact with listener expectations and experience.† As an example, Consider the word butter.† This word, produced by a number of speakers in a variety of social contexts may sound like budd-er. budd-uh, butt-er, budd-uh or butt-uh.† For example, I, as an American English speaker may produced something that sounds like budd-er in the kitchen.†† This utterance is different from both how my British friend produces the word (e.g., butt-uh) and how my friend from NYC produces the word (e.g., budd-uh).† It is also different from how I might produce the word in a more formal context like the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony (e.g., butt-er).†
These kinds of variation have long been studied, and we now have a reasonably good understanding of how linguistic and social factors affect variation in production.† But the same is not true for the perception of spoken words.† In this project, we are working toward understanding the general role of linguistic and social factors in variable speech comprehension.
Related papers and works:
de Marneffe, M–C., Tomlinson, J., Tice, M., and Sumner, M. (submitted). The interaction of frequency and phonetic variation in the perception of novel phonetic contrasts. Language and Cognitive Processes.
Sumner, M. (submitted). Generalization across sublexical units in the learning of novel contrasts. Journal of Phonetics.
Sumner, M. (accepted). The benefit of phonetic variation in the perception of accented speech. Cognition.
Manuscript drafts and Works in progress
Bion, R., and Sumner, M. Cross–linguistic adaptation mechanisms in the perception of variable speech.
Moon, K., and Sumner, M. The generalization of newly learned contrasts to speakers of novel accents.
Sumner, M., and Tilsen, S. The roles of order and decay in the immediate accommodation of accented speech.
Tice, M., and Sumner, M. What phonetic variation can tell us about L2 acquisition: A distributional analysis of VOT in accented speech.
Tomlinson, J., and Sumner, M. Listening to non–native speech: Perceptual adjustments without lexical knowledge.