Do non-native speakers use context speaking rate in spoken word recognition?

Author(s): Melissa Baese-Berk, Tuuli Morrill and Laura Dilley

Abstract

Context speaking rate is an important cue in spoken-word recognition for native speakers (Dilley & Pitt, 2010; Dilley, Morrill, & Banzina, 2013). Native speakers entrain to the context rate; when they encounter ambiguous regions of speech, native speakers perceive fewer words and/or syllables when the surrounding speaking material is presented a relatively slow rate than when presented with a relatively fast context speaking rate. In the present study, we ask whether non-native speakers are able to use context speaking rate in the same way. We present results from an experiment examining whether non-native speakers show similar patterns to native speakers when determining the number of words being spoken. Results suggest that while non-native speakers can use speaking rate to disambiguate ambiguous regions of speech, they only do so when the speech is relatively slow. When the speech is fast, they do not demonstrate context speaking rate effects. This suggests that some aspects of the context speaking rate effect may be closely to proficiency, while other aspects may demonstrate more language-general patterns.

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