The Linguistic Review
Editor-in-Chief: van der Hulst, Harry
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From fush to feesh: Exemplar priming in speech perception
Niedzielski (1999) reports on an experiment which demonstrates that individuals in Detroit ‘hear’ more Canadian Raising in the speech of a speaker when they think that speaker is Canadian. We describe an experiment designed to follow up on this result in a New Zealand context. Participants listened to a New Zealand English (NZE) speaker reading a list of sentences. Each sentence appeared on the answer-sheet, with a target word underlined. For each sentence, participants were asked to select from a synthesized vowel continuum the token that best matched the target vowel produced by the speaker. Half the participants had an answer-sheet with the word ‘Australian’ written on it, and half had an answer-sheet with ‘New Zealander’ written on it. Participants in the two conditions behaved significantly differently from one another. For example, they were more likely to hear a higher fronter /i/ vowel when ‘Australian’ appeared on the answer sheet, and more likely to hear a centralized version when ‘New Zealander’ appeared – a trend which reflects production differences between the two dialects. This is despite the fact that nearly all participants reported that they knew they were listening to a New Zealander. We discuss the implication of these results, and argue that they support exemplar models of speech perception.
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