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Poster C61, Thursday, November 9, 10:00 – 11:15 am, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

Electrophysiological activity in native, dialectal and foreign accented speech processing

Clara Martin1,2, Alejandro Pérez1, Sendy Caffarra1;1BCBL, 2Ikerbasque

Despite the growing research on accented speech, it is still unclear whether there is a continuum in speech processing from native accented speech to foreign accented speech, with dialectal accented speech falling in between (Perceptual Distance Hypothesis) or whether processing foreign and dialectal accents is qualitatively and functionally different (Different Processes Hypothesis). To address this debate, we explored neural oscillatory activity and event-related potentials (ERPs) during listening to native, dialectal and foreign accented speech. Twenty-six native Spanish speakers from Spain were exposed to continuous speech in Spanish (one 6-minutes conversation per accent type; grammatically and semantically correct) and isolated words (120 words per accent type) during electroencephalogram recording. Conversations and isolated words were uttered by local Spanish speakers (native accent), Spanish speakers with Cuban (dialectal) accent and Italian speakers (foreign accent). Spectral power analyses of speech perception revealed that dialectal and foreign accented speech differed from native accented speech in high frequency (gamma) bands. ERP analyses revealed that isolated word perception differed in dialectal and foreign accented speech relative to native accented speech, in the 250-350 ms time-window (fronto-central Phonological Mapping Negativity; PMN). Importantly, dialectal and foreign accented speech processing did not differ in each of these analyses. Oscillatory activity in the gamma band during speech perception has been proposed to reflect speech processing at the phonemic level. Moreover, several previous studies have shown that the PMN observed during word processing reflects processes of normalization between acoustic-phonetic input and phonological representations. Consequently, our results suggest that speech and word processing of native language differs when uttered in native relative to non-native accent, mostly at the phonemic/phonological level. Dialectal and foreign accented speech processing does not seem to diverge significantly, which is in favor of the Perceptual Distance Hypothesis.

Topic Area: Multilingualism

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