Acoustic Cues to Perception of Word Stress by English, Mandarin, and Russian Speakers Purpose This study investigated how listeners' native language affects their weighting of acoustic cues (such as vowel quality, pitch, duration, and intensity) in the perception of contrastive word stress. Method Native speakers (N = 45) of typologically diverse languages (English, Russian, and Mandarin) performed a stress identification task on ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2014
Acoustic Cues to Perception of Word Stress by English, Mandarin, and Russian Speakers
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anna Chrabaszcz
    University of Maryland, College Park
  • Matthew Winn
    University of Madison—Wisconsin
  • Candise Y. Lin
    University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • William J. Idsardi
    University of Maryland, College Park
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Anna Chrabaszcz: lav@umd.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Robert Marshall
    Associate Editor: Robert Marshall×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2014
Acoustic Cues to Perception of Word Stress by English, Mandarin, and Russian Speakers
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2014, Vol. 57, 1468-1479. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0279
History: Received October 11, 2013 , Revised December 18, 2013 , Accepted January 24, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2014, Vol. 57, 1468-1479. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0279
History: Received October 11, 2013; Revised December 18, 2013; Accepted January 24, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 6

Purpose This study investigated how listeners' native language affects their weighting of acoustic cues (such as vowel quality, pitch, duration, and intensity) in the perception of contrastive word stress.

Method Native speakers (N = 45) of typologically diverse languages (English, Russian, and Mandarin) performed a stress identification task on nonce disyllabic words with fully crossed combinations of each of the 4 cues in both syllables.

Results The results revealed that although the vowel quality cue was the strongest cue for all groups of listeners, pitch was the second strongest cue for the English and the Mandarin listeners but was virtually disregarded by the Russian listeners. Duration and intensity cues were used by the Russian listeners to a significantly greater extent compared with the English and Mandarin participants. Compared with when cues were noncontrastive across syllables, cues were stronger when they were in the iambic contour than when they were in the trochaic contour.

Conclusions Although both English and Russian are stress languages and Mandarin is a tonal language, stress perception performance of the Mandarin listeners but not of the Russian listeners is more similar to that of the native English listeners, both in terms of weighting of the acoustic cues and the cues' relative strength in different word positions. The findings suggest that tuning of second-language prosodic perceptions is not entirely predictable by prosodic similarities across languages.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by the University of Maryland's National Science Foundation–Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program in language (DGE-0801465, “Biological and Computational Foundations of Language Diversity”).
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