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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

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Volume 56, Issue 3


The expectation mismatch effect in accentedness perception of Asian and Caucasian non-native speakers of English

Ksenia Gnevsheva
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics,Australian National University, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
  • Other articles by this author:
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Published Online: 2018-05-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2018-0006


Previous research on speech perception has found an effect of ethnicity, such that the same audio clip may be rated more accented when presented with an Asian face (Rubin, Donald L. 1992. Nonlanguage factors affecting undergraduates’ judgments of nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants. Research in Higher Education 33(4). 511–531. doi: 10.1007/bf00973770). However, most previous work has concentrated on Asian non-native English speakers, and Caucasian speakers remain under-explored. In this study, listeners carried out an accentedness rating task using stimuli from first language Korean, German, and English speakers in 3 conditions: audio only, video only, and audiovisual. Korean speakers received similar accentedness ratings regardless of condition, but German speakers were rated significantly less accented in the video condition and more accented in the audiovisual condition than the audio one. This result is explained as an expectation mismatch effect, whereby, when the listeners saw a Caucasian speaker they did not expect to hear a foreign accent, but if they actually heard one it was made more salient by their expectation to the contrary.

Keywords: Speech perception; sociophonetics; foreign accentedness; ethnicity; variation


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-05-23

Published in Print: 2018-06-26

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 56, Issue 3, Pages 581–598, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2018-0006.

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