Individual Differences in the Perception of Children’s Speech

Looking forward to Ben Munson’s visit and his talk tomorrow! Come if you are around!

Communication Sciences and Disorders

The University of Texas at Austin


Elizabeth C. & Robert M. Woolfolk

Distinguished Lecture Series


Benjamin Munson, PhD

Associate Professor

University of Minnesota

Individual Differences in the Perception of Children’s Speech


Friday, February 17, 2012

 2:00-3:30 pm


LBJ room (cma 5.160)


Recent work has shown that the distributional characteristics of sounds that learners are exposed to in novel-language learning tasks affect their eventual identification and discrimination of those sounds. These findings predict that groups of listeners that differ in the distributions of sounds to which they are exposed in real-world speech perception should differ in identification and discrimination, too. This talk examines this possibility by studying the role of expose to children’s speech on individuals’ performance on speech perception task. Acoustic-phonetic distributions of children’s speech differ from those of adults for at least two reasons: Children produce stereotypical error patterns (i.e., the ‘fronting’ of /k/ and /g/ to [t] and [k], in English-acquiring children), and children’s correct productions are acoustically more variable than those of adults. The first study examines relationships between experience interacting with children and the perception of fine acoustic detail in children’s speech. A second study explores the propensity of adults to hyperarticulate productions to children whose speech they perceive to be inaccurate. More-experienced listeners were found to be more likely to hyperarticulate in response to hearing an inaccurate production by a child than were less-experienced listeners. A third study examines the perception of the accuracy of children’s speech when it was paired with pictures of African-American and European-American faces. Taken together, these findings suggest that experience interacting with children is an important source of variation in speech perception.



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