PIRE fellow Carly Danielson presents at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society.
Research shows that native-accented speech is easier to comprehend than foreign-accented speech. Most studies presented speech in isolation. We examined how faces cuing the speaker’s ethnicity create expectations about upcoming speech, and how this impacts the comprehension of American- and Chinese-accented English. Caucasian American monolinguals listened to American-accented and Chinese-accented sentences, preceded by a picture of an Asian face or a Caucasian face, yielding two congruent face-accent conditions (Caucasian face/American accent; Asian face/Chinese accent) and two incongruent face-accent conditions (Asian face/American-accent; Caucasian face/Chinese-accent). Immediately after hearing the sentence, listeners transcribed the sentence. For American-accented sentences, transcription accuracy was lower when preceded by an Asian face than by a Caucasian face. For Chinese-accented sentences, transcription accuracy did not differ for Caucasian and Asian faces. This indicates that faces cuing ethnicity only trick our ears in native- accented, but not in foreign-accented speech. Results will be discussed in terms of reverse linguistic stereotyping and accent-driven asymmetries in face-accent processing.
Citation: Danielson, C., Fernandez, C. B., & Van Hell, J. G. (2019). Faces can trick your ears: Speaker identity affects native-accented but not foreign-accented speech. Poster presented at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Montreal, Canada, November 14-17.
PIRE fellow Christianna Otto presents at the 12th International Symposium on Bilingualism.
Differences in how languages map acoustic space onto phonetic categories present challenges in second language (L2) learning, but those challenges are exacerbated by phonetic variation within the L2 (e.g. regional or social lects). In this study, we asked what happens when L2 listeners encounter native speakers whose speech exhibits unfamiliar features. Listeners adapt easily to such features in their native language, a process known as perceptual learning, but the evidence suggests that they often attribute those features to talker-specific idiosyncrasies. This may also be the case in L2 listening, but since L2 users are more likely to encounter unfamiliar lects shared by many talkers, they might be more open to the possibility that a second talker would share the same features.
We explored this hypothesis by presenting proficient, late Dutch-English bilinguals, residing in the Netherlands, with English speech exhibiting a vowel merger and a consonant merger. // and // were merged, either in favor of  (e.g. pitcher ptcher) or  (e.g. ketchup ktchup), counterbalanced across participants, and /s/ and /f/ were merged, either in favor of [s] (perfect per[s]ect) or [f] (mustard mu[f]tard). Participants were familiarized with the novel lects via sentences produced by a single talker. Learning was then assessed via a cross-modal priming task in which participants made lexical decisions on visual targets preceded by matching or mismatching auditory words (with or without the merged phonemes). Words exhibiting the mergers initially produced weaker priming, which strengthened throughout the task, demonstrating learning of the unfamiliar variation. The speech of a second talker, exhibiting the same mergers, was then introduced in a second cross-modal priming task. Words with the merger immediately yielded strong priming, suggesting that listeners had formed the expectation that the second talker’s speech would exhibit the same features.
Citation: Carlson, M. T., Otto, C., Schuhmann, K., & McQueen, J. M. (2019, June). Cross-talker perceptual learning in a second language. Paper presented at the 12th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Maura Jaeger & Dana Winthrop - Using developmental milestones to characterize language delay in preschool-age users of American Sign Language
Alec Powers & Gabriella Rivera-Corchada - Cognate Facilitation and Syntactic Ambiguity in Bilingual Children
Joana Pinzon-Coimbra, Julia Rembalsky, & Gloria Xu - English proficiency and the understanding/use of articles
Kellie Harrington, David Miller, & Maggie Rose Pelella - The processing of Spanish dialectal variation by native Spanish speakers
Emily Pifer - Creativity in two languages: Convergent and Divergent Thinking in Billingual Engineering Students
Julian Yee - Comprehension of code-switched speech in non-habitual code-switchers: An electrophysiological study
Carmen Gonzalez Recober - Comprehension of code-switched speech: Does code-switching experience play a role?
Madison Krieger - How gender based bias impacts language perceptions
Sara Ostergren - Spanish-Palenquero Code-Switching
Gabrielle Herman - Language Identification in Lengua Palenquera and Spanish
Natalie Wenger - Phonological differences between Spanish and Palenquero
Jason Giovagnoli - Perceiving difficult L2 phonetic contrasts: a view from perceptual learning
Rosa Padt - Vocabulary Consolidation in L2 Speakers
Shane Cummings - Idiomatic Comprehension in the L2: Is Nativelike Speed Possible?
Carly Danielson - The Influence of Speakers’ Physical Appearance on Listeners' Accented Speech Comprehension
Sydney Harfenist - Syntactic Priming of Possessive Noun Phrases in Bilingual Children
During this meeting we will be discussing the PIRE application procedure and, in particular, the process of designing a project in conjunction with your advisor and a partner institution. If you think you might be interested in applying for a PIRE fellowship, please plan on attending.
PIRE undergraduate fellow Neil Shook’s research presented at the 2nd International Symposium on Bilingual and L2 Processing in Adults and Children.
While research suggests that L2 speakers rely more heavily on discourse cues than L1 speakers during real-time processing (Cunnings, 2017), how discourse and grammatical cues interact in L1 and L2 comprehension remains of interest. The present study investigates how the plural grammatical cue of English singular they(a grammatically plural pronoun used to refer to a grammatically singular antecedent; Figure 1) interacts with discourse cues (referential status) of the antecedent to shape L1 and L2 speakers’ real-time processing and final interpretations. In a self-paced reading task, L1 English monolinguals and L1 German-L2 English speakers read sentences containing either a referential (e.g., that jogger at the intersection) or a nonreferential (e.g., a jogger) antecedent. A second clause referred to this antecedent using a grammatically singular (he/she) or plural (they) pronoun. Following each sentence, participants indicated whether the subject was singular or plural. L1 and L2 English speakers showed no reading time differences for they vs. he/she in either referential context (Figure 2), suggesting that neither group had difficulty integrating the plural feature of they while reading. Interpretation responses revealed that L1 and L2 speakers were more likely to interpret the subject as plural with nonreferential than referential antecedents. L1 speakers also showed an increase in plural responses in nonreferential contexts after reading they vs. he/she, but not in referential contexts (Figure 3); L2 speakers showed an increase in plural responses after reading they vs. he/she in both referential contexts (Figure 4). These results suggest that the L2 speakers were not sensitive to the interaction between the grammatical cues of singular they and the discourse (referential) cues of the antecedent. The L1 speakers’ interpretations, conversely, were modulated by the discourse cue of the antecedent. This highlights that L2 speakers may not always privilege discourse over grammatical cues during language processing.
Citation: Shook, N., Brehm, L., Hopp, H., & Jackson, C.N. (2018). “The interpretation of novel grammatical features in L2 sentence processing: The case of singular they in L1 and L2 English.” Poster presentation at the International Symposium on Bilingual Processing in Adults and Children (ISBPAC), Braunschweig, Germany, May 24-25.
PIRE undergraduate fellow Neil Shook’s research presented at the CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing.
Language comprehenders must incorporate a variety of linguistic cues into working memory to form an interpretation of an utterance. Evidence suggests that L2 speakers tend to rely more heavily on discourse-level cues than grammatical cues, compared toL1 speakers, during real-time language processing (see Cunnings, 2017, for review). However, limited research has investigated how discourse and grammatical cues interact in language comprehension, and how this cue interaction compares between L1 and L2 speakers. This study investigates how grammatical number information on pronouns interacts with referential information encoded via their antecedents during cue integration and retrieval. Specifically, we investigate English singular they, a relatively common construction in English in which a syntactically plural pronoun refers to a singular antecedent (e.g., A student should study if they want to get ahead.). In manipulating a discourse cue (i.e., referential status)of the antecedent, we provide insight into how L1 and L2 speakers incorporate grammatical and discourse cues during online language processing and offline language interpretation.
In a self-paced reading task, L1 English monolinguals (N= 32) and L1 German-L2 English speakers (N= 29) read sentences containing either a singular referential noun phrase (e.g., that jogger at the intersection) or a nonreferential noun phrase (e.g., a jogger)as a subject. In a second clause, this subject was referred to using a singular pronoun (either he or she) or a plural pronoun (they). Following each sentence, participants answered an interpretation question probing whether the subject of the sentence was singular or plural. See Figure1 for a sample stimulus item. Prior to the self-paced reading task, participants also completed a brief informal written production task which probed for productive use of singular they.
Both L1 English and L1 German-L2 English participants showed no reading time differences for they vs. he/she, regardless of the referential status of the antecedent(Figures 2 and 3), replicating previousL1results (Foertsch & Gernsbacher, 1997). Interpretation responses reveal that both participant groups were more likely to interpret the subject as plural with nonreferential antecedents than with referential antecedents.L1 speakers also demonstrated an interaction between referential status and pronoun; L1 participants showed a slight increase in the proportion of plural responses after reading they compared to he/she in nonreferential contexts, but not in referential contexts (Figure 4). L2 speakers, on the other hand, showed no interaction between these cues, showing instead a similar increase in plural responses after reading they in both referential contexts (Figure 5).
These results suggest that L2 speakers were not sensitive to the interaction between the referential status of the antecedent and grammatical cues of the pronoun, but were still sensitive to both cues independently. L2 speakers’ non-nativelike interpretation of singular they may stem from an unfamiliarity with the construction, since an equivalent to singular they does not exist in their L1 German. This may lead to an overreliance on the grammatical cue from the pronoun when forming an offline interpretation. This suggests thatL2 speakers do not always rely less heavily on grammatical cues than L1 speakers during language processing, but that they may have greater difficulty linking grammatical and discourse information across multiple elements in a sentence at the point of interpretation. Critically, these effects appeared in offline interpretations rather than in online reading times, as no reading time differences emerged across conditions for either L1 or L2 speakers. We hypothesize that the lack of reading time differences at the pronoun indicate that both L1 and L2 speakers can successfully bind the pronoun to its antecedent during reading, independent of number information. However, in reaching a final interpretation of the referent, L2 speakers are less able to integrate multiple and potentially conflicting cues relative to L1 speakers.
Citation: Shook, N., Brehm, L., Hopp, H. & Jackson, C.N. (2018). “Singular they: Online and offline interpretation effects among L1 and L2 English speakers.” Poster presentation at the CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Davis, CA, March 15-17.