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      Listening to accented speech in Brazilian Portuguese: On the role of fricative voicing and vowel duration in the identification of /s/ – /z/ minimal pairs produced by speakers of L1 Spanish

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          Abstract

          This article reports the results of two experiments investigating the combined role of vowel length and length of fricative voicing in the identification, by Brazilians, of minimal pairs such as casa /z/ – caça /s/ produced by speakers of Spanish (L1). In Experiment 1, stimuli were manipulated so that length of voicing in the fricative was tested in two levels (100% or 0% of voicing) and vowel length was tested in four levels (25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the length of the total vowel). In Experiment 2, voicing length was tested in three levels (25%, 50% and 75% of voicing), combined with the four levels of vowel length (25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the length of the total vowel). Both experiments were run on TP Software ( Rauber et al. 2012), and forty Brazilian listeners with no experience with Spanish took part in both tasks. The results show an interaction between the two cues, especially in the stimuli with no full voicing in the fricative. These findings provide additional evidence to the gradient status of speech in production and perceptual phenomena ( Albano 2001; Albano 2012; Perozzo 2017), besides shedding light on the teaching of Brazilian Portuguese as an Additional Language.

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          Resilience of English vowel perception across regional accent variation

           Jason A. Shaw (corresponding) ,  Catherine Best,  Gerard Docherty (2018)
          In two categorization experiments using phonotactically legal nonce words, we tested Australian English listeners’ perception of all vowels in their own accent as well as in four less familiar regional varieties of English which differ in how their vowel realizations diverge from Australian English: London, Yorkshire, Newcastle (UK), and New Zealand. Results of Experiment 1 indicated that amongst the vowel differences described in sociophonetic studies and attested in our stimulus materials, only a small subset caused greater perceptual difficulty for Australian listeners than for the corresponding Australian English vowels. We discuss this perceptual tolerance for vowel variation in terms of how perceptual assimilation of phonetic details into abstract vowel categories may contribute to recognizing words across variable pronunciations. Experiment 2 determined whether short-term multi-talker exposure would facilitate accent adaptation, particularly for those vowels that proved more difficult to categorize in Experiment 1. For each accent separately, participants listened to a pre-test passage in the nonce word accent but told by novel talkers before completing the same task as in Experiment 1. In contrast to previous studies showing rapid adaptation to talker-specific variation, our listeners’ subsequent vowel assimilations were largely unaffected by exposure to other talkers’ accent-specific variation.
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            Coarticulation and theories of extrinsic timing

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              Cue weighting in auditory categorization: implications for first and second language acquisition.

              The ability to integrate and weight information across dimensions is central to perception and is particularly important for speech categorization. The present experiments investigate cue weighting by training participants to categorize sounds drawn from a two-dimensional acoustic space defined by the center frequency (CF) and modulation frequency (MF) of frequency-modulated sine waves. These dimensions were psychophysically matched to be equally discriminable and, in the first experiment, were equally informative for accurate categorization. Nevertheless, listeners' category responses reflected a bias for use of CF. This bias remained even when the informativeness of CF was decreased by shifting distributions to create more overlap in CF. A reversal of weighting (MF over CF) was obtained when distribution variance was increased for CF. These results demonstrate that even when equally informative and discriminable, acoustic cues are not necessarily equally weighted in categorization; listeners exhibit biases when integrating multiple acoustic dimensions. Moreover, changes in weighting strategies can be affected by changes in input distribution parameters. This methodology provides potential insights into acquisition of speech sound categories, particularly second language categories. One implication is that ineffective cue weighting strategies for phonetic categories may be alleviated by manipulating variance of uninformative dimensions in training stimuli.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2397-5563
                Journal of Portuguese Linguistics
                Ubiquity Press
                2397-5563
                13 May 2020
                2020
                : 19
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, BR
                [2 ]Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, BR
                Article
                10.5334/jpl.237
                Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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