3pSC6. The identification and discrimination of a non-native nasal series by Bengali and American English listeners.

Session: Wednesday Afternoon, June 18

Author: James D. Harnsberger
Location: Program in Linguist., Univ. of Michigan, 1076 Frieze Bldg., Ann Arbor, MI 48109, jharns@umich.edu


Predictions based on the perceptual assimilation model (PAM) (Best, 1995) concerning the perception of non-native contrasts rely primarily on three factors: the contrast in question, the inventory of native categories, and the degree of gestural similarity between them. To determine if these factors are sufficient for predicting listeners' difficulties, nasal contrasts from three languages, Malayalam, Marathi, and Oriya, varying in place of articulation (bilabial, interdental/dental, alveolar, and retroflex), syllabic position, and vowel context, were presented in an AXB discrimination test and an identification test with category-goodness ratings to sixteen speakers each of American English (AE) and Bengali. AE and Bengali were selected for their similar nasal series ([m], [n], and [(right hooked en)]). However, Bengali differs from AE in its use of dental and retroflex oral stops. PAM should predict equivalent performance for both subject groups. However, a pilot of this study demonstrated poorer performance by Bengali listeners on dental-retroflex (34.6% mean correct to AE 53.6%) and interdental-alveolar (33.2% to AE 69.6%). The implications of these results for phonological and phonetic factors in the perception of non-native contrasts will be discussed.

ASA 133rd meeting - Penn State, June 1997