Effects of native language on compensation for coarticulation

Shinae Kang, Keith Johnson, Gregory Finley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper investigates whether compensation for coarticulation in speech perception can be mediated by native language. Substantial work has studied compensation as a consequence of aspects of general auditory processing or as a consequence of a perceptual gestural recovery processes. The role of linguistic experience in compensation for coarticulation potentially cross-cuts this controversy and may shed light on the phonetic basis of compensation. In Experiment 1, French and English native listeners identified an initial sound from a set of fricative-vowel syllables on a continuum from [s] to [] with the vowels [a,u,y]. French speakers are familiar with the round vowel [y], while it is unfamiliar to English speakers. Both groups showed compensation (a shifted 's'/'sh' boundary compared with [a]) for the vowel [u], but only the French-speaking listeners reliably compensated for the vowel [y]. In Experiment 2, 39 American English listeners judged videos in which the audio stimuli of Experiment 1 were used as soundtracks of a face saying [s]V, []V, or a visual-blend of the two fricatives. The study found that videos with [] visual information induced significantly more "" responses than did those made from visual [s] tokens. However, as in Experiment 1, English-speaking listeners reliably compensated for [u], but not for the unfamiliar vowel [y]. The listeners used visual consonant information for categorization, but did not use visual vowel information for compensation for coarticulation. The results indicate that perceptual compensation for coarticulation is a language specific effect tied to the listener's experience with the conditioning phonetic environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-100
Number of pages17
JournalSpeech Communication
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers, Holger Mitterer, and the members of Phonology Lab at UC Berkeley Linguistics Department for their valuable comments on this paper. We presented an earlier version of this project at the 164th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and we thank participants there for their feedback. Many thanks to Elsa Spinelli for help in data collection in France, and to Nicholas Strzelczyk and Carson Miller Rigoli for their work in helping us cr eate the stimuli and collect perception data in Berkeley. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation ( BCS1147583 ) and the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders (R01DC011295-3).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Audiovisual perception
  • Compensation for coarticulation
  • Direct realism
  • Linguistic experience
  • Speech perception


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