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Journal Article

Relative difficulty of understanding foreign accents as a marker of proficiency


Lev-Ari,  Shiri
Psychology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Lev-Ari, S., van Heugten, M., & Peperkamp, S. (2017). Relative difficulty of understanding foreign accents as a marker of proficiency. Cognitive Science, 41(4), 1106-1118. doi:10.1111/cogs.12394.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-110D-B
Foreign-accented speech is generally harder to understand than native-accented speech. This difficulty is reduced for non-native listeners who share their first language with the non-native speaker. It is currently unclear, however, how non-native listeners deal with foreign-accented speech produced by speakers of a different language. We show that the process of (second) language acquisition is associated with an increase in the relative difficulty of processing foreign-accented speech. Therefore, experiencing greater relative difficulty with foreign-accented speech compared with native speech is a marker of language proficiency. These results contribute to our understanding of how phonological categories are acquired during second language learning.