Michael A. Stevens1, James M. McQueen2 & Robert J. Hartsuiker1
1Ghent University; 2Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

ID 1391
[full paper]

Listeners can make perceptual adjustments to phoneme categories in response to a talker who consistently produces a specific phoneme ambiguously. We investigate here whether this type of perceptual learning is also used to adapt to regional accent differences. Listeners were exposed to words produced by a Flemish talker whose realization of [x] or [h] was ambiguous (producing [x] like [h] is a property of the West-Flanders regional accent). Before and after exposure they categorized a [x]-[h] continuum. For both Dutch and Flemish listeners there was no shift of the categorization boundary after exposure to ambiguous sounds in [x] or [h]-biasing contexts. The absence of a lexically-driven learning effect for this contrast may be because [h] is strongly influenced by coarticulation. As [h] is not stable across contexts, it may be futile to adapt its representation when new realizations are heard.