This paper investigates whether compensation for coarticulation in speech perception can be mediated by native language. Substantial work has studied compensation as a consequence of aspects of general auditory processing or as a consequence of a perceptual gestural recovery processes. The role of linguistic experience in compensation for coarticulation potentially cross-cuts this controversy and may shed light on the phonetic basis of compensation. In Experiment 1, French and English native listeners identified an initial sound from a set of fricative-vowel syllables on a continuum from [s] to [S] with the vowels [a,u,y]. French speakers are familiar with the round vowel [y], while it is unfamiliar to English speakers. Both groups showed compensation (a shifted ‘s’/‘sh’ boundary compared with [a]) for the vowel [u], but only the French-speaking listeners reliably compensated for the vowel [y]. In Experiment 2, 39 American English listeners judged videos in which the audio stimuli of Experiment 1 were used as soundtracks of a face saying [s]V, [S]V, or a visual-blend of the two fricatives. The study found that videos with [S] visual information induced significantly more “S” responses than did those made from visual [s] tokens. However, as in Experiment 1, English-speaking listeners reliably compensated for [u], but not for the unfamiliar vowel [y]. The listeners used visual consonant information for categorization, but did not use visual vowel information for compensation for coarticulation. The results indicate that perceptual compensation for coarticulation is a language specific effect tied to the listener’s experience with the conditioning phonetic environment.

Shinae Kang
Keith Johnson
Gregory Finley
Publication date: 
December 29, 2015
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Kang, Shinae; Johnson, Keith; Finley, Gregory. 2016. Effects of native language on compensation for coarticulation. Speech Communication 77, 84-100