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Topic affects perception of degree of foreign accent in a non-dominant language

  • Ksenia Gnevsheva EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistics


Multiple studies demonstrate that social and linguistic information is connected in speech perception such that the priming of a social category will affect listeners’ linguistic behavior. At the same time, the degree to which social information is relied upon during speech perception is less well understood. The current study investigates whether priming of a country affects the perceived degree of foreign accent and whether this effect varies across different social groups. Two groups of bilinguals (one dominant in Russian, another dominant in English) listened to audio recordings of monolingual and bilingual (also either dominant in Russian or English) speakers and rated the degree of their foreign accentedness in English and Russian. The recordings were divided by topic: neutral, Russia-related, and Australia-related. Statistical analysis revealed a significant effect of topic: Russia-related clips were rated as more foreign-accented in English by bilinguals dominant in Russian, and Australia-related clips were rated as less foreign-accented in Russian when produced by bilinguals dominant in English. The variation is explained through listeners’ using social information more when the linguistic information is less reliable.

Corresponding author: Ksenia Gnevsheva, School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, The Australian National University, Baldessin Precinct Building (110), Acton, Canberra, ACT, 2601, Australia, E-mail:

Appendix A Stimuli


Bears use shelters such as caves and logs as their dens. Most species occupy their den during the winter for a long period of hibernation, up to a hundred days. Bears have been hunted since prehistoric times for their meat and fur.

Kangaroos have powerful hind legs, large feet adapted for leaping, a long muscular tail for balance, and a small head. Like most marsupials, female kangaroos have a pouch called a marsupium in which joeys complete post-natal development.

Despite their heavy build and awkward gait, they’re adapt runners, climbers and swimmers. With their powerful physical presence they play a prominent role in the arts, mythology and other cultural aspects of various human societies.


Медведи всеядны, хорошо лазают и плавают. Быстро бегают, могут стоять и проходить короткие расстояния на задних лапах. Имеют короткий хвост, длинную и густую шерсть, а также отличное обоняние.

Кенгуру живут в среднем шесть лет в дикой природе и свыше двадцати лет в неволе, в зависимости от разновидности. Большинство кенгуру, однако, не достигает зрелости при диком образе жизни.

Отталкиваясь мощными задними лапами, они мчатся прыжками до двенадцати метров в длину и до трех метров в высоту. Масса тела составляют до восьмидесяти килограмм.


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Received: 2020-11-30
Accepted: 2020-11-30
Published Online: 2020-12-21
Published in Print: 2021-01-27

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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