Lexical exposure to native language dialects can improve non-native phonetic discrimination
Nonnative phonetic learning is an area of great interest for language researchers, learners, and educators alike. In two studies, we examined whether nonnative phonetic discrimination of Hindi dental and retroflex stops can be improved by exposure to lexical items bearing the critical nonnative stops. We extend the lexical retuning paradigm of Norris, McQueen, and Cutler (Cognitive Psychology, 47, 204–238, 2003) by having naive American English (AE)-speaking participants perform a pretest-training-posttest procedure. They performed an AXB discrimination task with the Hindi retroflex and dental stops before and after transcribing naturally produced words from an Indian English speaker that either contained these tokens or not. Only those participants who heard words with the critical nonnative phones improved in their posttest discrimination. This finding suggests that exposure to nonnative phones in native lexical contexts supports learning of difficult nonnative phonetic discrimination.
KeywordsSpeech perception Perceptual learning
NV was partially supported by NICHD Grant # NICHD P01 HD001004-96 awarded to Haskins Laboratories.
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