Comparing Identification of Standardized and Regionally Valid Vowels Purpose: In perception studies, it is common to use vowel stimuli from standardized recordings or synthetic stimuli created using values from well-known published research. Although the use of standardized stimuli is convenient, unconsidered dialect and regional accent differences may introduce confounding effects. The goal of this study was to ... Article
Article  |   February 2012
Comparing Identification of Standardized and Regionally Valid Vowels
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Richard Wright
    University of Washington, Seattle
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Pamela Souza
    Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
    Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • Correspondence to Pamela Souza: p-souza@northwestern.edu
  • Editor: Robert Schlauch
    Editor: Robert Schlauch×
  • Associate Editor: Mark Hedrick
    Associate Editor: Mark Hedrick×
  • © 2012 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing
Article   |   February 2012
Comparing Identification of Standardized and Regionally Valid Vowels
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 182-193. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0278)
History: Received October 4, 2010 , Revised March 14, 2011 , Accepted June 3, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 182-193. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0278)
History: Received October 4, 2010; Revised March 14, 2011; Accepted June 3, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose: In perception studies, it is common to use vowel stimuli from standardized recordings or synthetic stimuli created using values from well-known published research. Although the use of standardized stimuli is convenient, unconsidered dialect and regional accent differences may introduce confounding effects. The goal of this study was to examine the effect of regional accent variation on vowel identification.

Method: The authors analyzed formant values of 8 monophthong vowels produced by 12 talkers from the region where the research took place and compared them with standardized vowels. Fifteen listeners with normal hearing identified synthesized vowels presented in varying levels of noise and at varying spectral distances from the local-dialect values.

Results: Acoustically, local vowels differed from standardized vowels, and distance varied across vowels. Perceptually, there was a robust effect of accent similarity such that identification was reduced for vowels at greater distances from local values.

Conclusions: Researchers and clinicians should take care in choosing stimuli for perception experiments. It is recommended that regionally validated vowels be used instead of relying on standardized vowels in vowel perception tasks.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by Grant R01 DC60014 from the National Institutes of Health. The authors are grateful to Stephanie Bor, Star Reed, Daniel McCloy, and Kerry Witherell for their assistance with stimulus preparation, data collection, and analysis.
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