Recognising foreign-accented speech of varying intelligibility and linguistic complexity: insights from older listeners with or without hearing loss

Dorina Strori*, Ann R. Bradlow, Pamela E. Souza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The goal of this study was to assess recognition of foreign-accented speech of varying intelligibility and linguistic complexity in older adults. It is important to understand the factors that influence the recognition of this commonly encountered type of speech, in a population that remains understudied in this regard. Design: A repeated measures design was used. Listeners repeated back linguistically simple and complex sentences heard in noise. The sentences were produced by three talkers of varying intelligibility: one native American English, one foreign-accented talker of high intelligibility and one foreign-accented talker of low intelligibility. Percentage word recognition in sentences was measured. Study sample: Twenty-five older listeners with a range of hearing thresholds participated. Results: We found a robust interaction between talker intelligibility and linguistic complexity. Recognition accuracy was higher for simple versus complex sentences, but only for the native and high intelligibility foreign-accented talkers. This pattern was present after effects of working memory capacity and hearing acuity were taken into consideration. Conclusion: Older listeners exhibit qualitatively different speech processing strategies for low versus high intelligibility foreign-accented talkers. Differences in recognition accuracy for words presented in simple versus in complex sentence contexts only emerged for speech over a threshold of intelligibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-150
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Speech perception
  • behavioural measures
  • foreign-accented speech
  • linguistic complexity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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