ASA 128th Meeting - Austin, Texas - 1994 Nov 28 .. Dec 02

1pSP5. Cross-language tests of the perceptual magnet effect for /(inverted are)/ and /l/.

Paul Iverson

Dept. of Speech and Hear. Sci., WJ-10, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195

Eugen Diesch

Claudia Siebert

Tech. Univ. of Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Patricia K. Kuhl

Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA

Recent experiments by Iverson and Kuhl have suggested that the perceptual organization of the American English /(inverted are)/ and /l/ categories is strongly influenced by category goodness. American adult listeners exhibit a perceptual magnet effect characterized by low sensitivity and perceptual clustering near the best exemplars of /(inverted are)/ and /l/ and high sensitivity and stretched perceptual distances near the worst exemplars. The present study compares the responses of native German and English speakers to evaluate whether the representation of these categories is influenced by language experience. In separate experiments, natural phonemes of adult German (/(small capital are)/ and /l/) and American (/(inverted are)/ and /l/) speakers were recorded, and synthesized American English /(inverted are)/ and /l/ tokens were identified, discriminated, rated for category goodness, and rated for similarity by both groups of subjects. The results demonstrate that German listeners prefer, produce, and have perceptual clustering for /l/ phonemes with a higher F2 frequency than do American listeners. German listeners do not perceive American /(inverted are)/ phonemes to be good examples of the German /(small capital are)/ category, and German listeners also exhibit somewhat less perceptual clustering for /(inverted are)/ phonemes than do American listeners. The results confirm that the perceptual magnet effect for /(inverted are)/ and /l/ is determined by language experience. [Work supported by NIH.]