Thai rate-varied vowel length perception and the impact of musical experience

Angela Cooper*, Yue Wang, Richard Ashley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Musical experience has been demonstrated to play a significant role in the perception of nonnative speech contrasts. The present study examined whether or not musical experience facilitated the normalization of speaking rate in the perception of non-native phonemic vowel length contrasts. Native English musicians and non-musicians (as well as native Thai control listeners) completed identification and AX (same-different) discrimination tasks with Thai vowels contrasting in phonemic length at three speaking rates. Results revealed facilitative effects of musical experience in the perception of Thai vowel length categories. Specifically, the English musicians patterned similarly to the native Thai listeners, demonstrating higher accuracy at identifying and discriminating between-category vowel length distinctions than at discriminating within-category durational differences due to speaking rate variations. The English musicians also outperformed non-musicians at between-category vowel length discriminations across speaking rates, indicating musicians’ superiority in perceiving categorical phonemic length differences. These results suggest that musicians’ attunement to rhythmic and temporal information in music transferred to facilitating their ability to normalize contextual quantitative variations (due to speaking rate) and perceive non-native temporal phonemic contrasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-84
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage and Speech
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017


  • Musical experience
  • Non-native perception
  • Speaking rate
  • Thai vowel duration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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