5pSC8. Perceptual assimilation of German vowels by American listeners: Context and speaker effects.

Session: Friday Afternoon, May 17

Time: 2:45

Author: Winifred Strange
Location: Dept. of Commun. Sci. and Disord., BEH 255, Univ. of S. Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33620-8150
Author: Ocke-Schwen Bohn
Location: Kiel Univ., Kiel, Germany
Author: Sonja A. Trent
Author: Melissa C. McNair
Author: Katherine C. Bielec
Location: Univ. of S. Florida, Tampa, FL 33620


This study investigated American English (AE) speakers' perceptual assimilation of North German (NG) vowels spoken in 5 CVC contexts by four adult male speakers. Fourteen NG vowels were produced in /bVp, bVt, dVt, gVt, gVk/ syllables in the sentence ``Ich habe CVC gesacht.'' Twelve monolingual AE listeners were tested on each speaker's corpus; consonantal context was a within-subjects variable. Response categories were indicated by /hVd/ key words and IPA symbols. Listeners responded by selecting the AE category containing the vowel most similar to the one in the utterance and rating its ``goodness of fit.'' The percentages of selection of the modal AE response category for each NG vowel ranged from 99% for /i/->/i/ (best fit) to 41% for /(slashed oh)/->/u/ (worst fit). NG front and back rounded vowels were assimilated to AE back rounded vowels. However, for seven vowels, modal category percentages differed by greater than 15% across the five consonantal contexts. There was also significant variation in assimilation patterns across the four speaker groups for 11 of the NG vowels. These results have implications for theories of L2 speech learning. [Work supported by NIDCD.]

from ASA 131st Meeting, Indianapolis, May 1996