15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

The Detection of Foreign Accent in Backwards Speech

Murray J. Munro (1), Tracey M. Derwing (2), Clifford S. Burgess (1)

(1) Simon Fraser University, Canada
(2) University of Alberta, Canada

In this paper we report the results of two foreign accent detection experiments. In both cases, native-English-speaking listeners heard reversed English speech samples from native speakers of English and Mandarin, and attempted to identify the samples that were Mandarin-accented. In general the listeners performed at above-chance levels. Moreover, successful performance on the task did not appear to depend on speaking rate differences that are known to occur between first and second language users. The results suggest that when detecting and evaluating foreign-accentedness, listeners can make use of properties of speech that are unrelated to semantic, grammatical, segmental, and prosodic goodness, but that remain available even in reversed speech.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Munro, Murray J. / Derwing, Tracey M. / Burgess, Clifford S. (2003): "The detection of foreign accent in backwards speech", In ICPhS-15, 535-538.