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Conference Paper

A criterial interlocutor tally for successful talker adaptation?


Cutler,  Anne
Emeriti, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
MARCS Institute, ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, Western Sydney University;

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Cutler, A., Burchfield, A., & Antoniou, M. (2019). A criterial interlocutor tally for successful talker adaptation? In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, & P. Warren (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 20195) (pp. 1485-1489). Canberra, Australia: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-AB35-0
Part of the remarkable efficiency of listening is
accommodation to unfamiliar talkers’ specific
pronunciations by retuning of phonemic intercategory
boundaries. Such retuning occurs in second
(L2) as well as first language (L1); however, recent
research with emigrés revealed successful adaptation
in the environmental L2 but, unprecedentedly, not in
L1 despite continuing L1 use. A possible explanation
involving relative exposure to novel talkers is here
tested in heritage language users with Mandarin as
family L1 and English as environmental language. In
English, exposure to an ambiguous sound in
disambiguating word contexts prompted the expected
adjustment of phonemic boundaries in subsequent
categorisation. However, no adjustment occurred in
Mandarin, again despite regular use. Participants
reported highly asymmetric interlocutor counts in the
two languages. We conclude that successful retuning
ability requires regular exposure to novel talkers in
the language in question, a criterion not met for the
emigrés’ or for these heritage users’ L1.