3pSC5. Prediction of foreign-accented speech intelligibility from segmental contrast measures.

Session: Wednesday Afternoon, December 4


Author: Catherine L. Rogers
Location: Dept. of Linguist., Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN 47405
Author: Jonathan M. Dalby
Location: Communication Disorders Technology, Inc., Bloomington, IN 47404


The intelligibility of foreign-accented English was investigated using minimal-pairs contrasts probing a number of different error types. Forty-four native English-speaking listeners were presented with English words, sentences, and a brief passage produced by one of eight native speakers of Mandarin Chinese or one native English speaker. The 190 words were presented to listeners in a minimal-pairs forced-choice task. For the sentences and passage, listeners were instructed to write down what they understood. A feature-based analysis of the minimal-pairs data was performed, with percent correct scores computed for each feature. The sentence and passage data, scored as percent of content words correctly transcribed by listeners, were transformed and used as the dependent variables in two multiple regression analyses, with seven feature scores from the minimal-pairs test (four consonant and three vowel features) used as the independent variables. The seven minimal-pairs variables accounted for approximately 72% of the variance in sentence intelligibility and 49% of that of the passages. Of these seven variables, vowel tenseness, diphthongization, and consonant voicing accounted for 70% of the sentence and 45% of the passage variance. These data suggest that specific segmental error types may have differential effects on intelligibility. [Work supported by NIH-NIDCD Grant No. 2R44DC02213.]

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996