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Linguistics Vanguard

A Multimodal Journal for the Language Sciences

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The effect of perceived ethnicity on spoken text comprehension under clear and adverse listening conditions

Adriana Hanulíková
  • Corresponding author
  • Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Deutsches Seminar – Germanistische Linguistik, Platz der Universität 3, 79098 Freiburg, Germany, Tel.: 0049 761 2039341
  • Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), Freiburg, Germany
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Published Online: 2018-02-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2017-0029


Social information such as ethnicity affects metalinguistic judgments, speech perception and evaluation. This study tested whether previously reported negative effects of perceived East-Asian ethnicity on language comprehension and accentedness ratings would also be found for Moroccan ethnicity and in a socio-cultural environment with a population used to being and communicating with nonnative speakers. The results showed that accentedness ratings and comprehension scores do not depend upon the ethnicity of the speaker. We then tested whether the effect would change under adverse listening conditions and found an effect of perceived ethnicity on accentedness ratings but not on comprehension scores, suggesting that the effect of ethnicity on language comprehension is not altered under adverse listening conditions. Effects of ethnicity on accentedness ratings thus replicate previous findings, but only under suboptimal listening conditions. Although the effect of ethnicity on comprehension was not replicated in regards to Moroccan ethnicity and in a linguistically experienced population, negative correlations between accentedness ratings and the corresponding comprehension scores underlie the contribution of listeners’ characteristics to the comprehension and evaluation of nonnative speech.

Keywords: language comprehension; stereotypes; evaluation of speakers; social effects on language processing; adverse listening conditions


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About the article

Received: 2017-06-06

Accepted: 2017-09-01

Published Online: 2018-02-13

Citation Information: Linguistics Vanguard, Volume 4, Issue 1, 20170029, ISSN (Online) 2199-174X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2017-0029.

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