ASA 125th Meeting Ottawa 1993 May

4pSP13. Training native English speakers to identify Hindi dental and retroflex consonants.

John S. Pruitt

Dept. of Psychol., Univ. of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

Training listeners to perceive consonantal contrasts that do not occur in their native language has proved to be difficult. Cross-language training studies usually produce about 10% improvement in performance. This improvement has not transferred to related material in different linguistic contexts. The present research had four aims: (1) to investigate the difficulty experienced by American-English listeners in identifying Hindi dental and retroflex stop consonants in different voicing conditions, (2) to test a new, computer-based, interactive training method, (3) to examine transfer of training to new voicing conditions, to a new vowel context, and to the voice of a new speaker, and (4) to test the hypothesis that increasing stimulus variability (in this case, training with one versus two voicing conditions) increases transfer of training. Subjects had differential difficulty identifying dental versus retroflex consonants produced in different voicing conditions. Further, this relative difficulty was affected by which speaker produced the contrasts and, to a lesser extent, by the vowel context. The computer-based training improved subjects' consonant identification. However, this improvement showed little transfer to new stimuli. Finally, increasing stimulus variability during training did not affect transfer of training. [Work supported by NIDCD.]