Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name


Cooperating University

University of Louisville


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

speech perception; speaking rate; pitch; non-native speech; accent


Perception of foreign accent is typically studied using an accentedness rating task. For example, native English listeners rate the degree of accentedness in sentences produced by non-native English speakers. However, in past studies, it has been unclear what criteria participants used to judge accentedness. Here, native English speakers rated the accentedness of Korean-accented English sentences on a scale from 1 (strong accent) to 9 (little to no accent). Participants rated sentences that were unmodified or had one acoustic property removed. In one block, pitch contours of sentences were flattened and set to their mean values. In another block, speaking rates were set to the grand mean of all speaking rates (3.8 syllables/second). This way, changes in accentedness ratings across unmodified and modified sentences were attributable to the acoustic property that was removed. Accentedness ratings were not systematically influenced by manipulations of pitch contours, but were influenced by speaking rate manipulations. Increasing speaking rate (to 3.8 syllables/second) made sentences sound less accented than their unmodified versions; decreasing speaking rate made sentences sound more accented than their unmodified versions. Results suggest that speaking rate directly contributes to ratings of foreign accentedness.

Lay Summary

This study was concerning the effects of pitch and speaking rate on foreign accented speech perception. Participants were asked to rate accentedness (the perceived strength or weakness of an accent) with Korean-accented English speakers. There were three blocks. One block was the control group where nothing was manipulated. Another block was the pitch manipulation group where each speaker's pitch was flattened to their own average. The last block was the speaking rate manipulated block where each speaker was set to the overall average of 3.8 syllables per second (the average of all the speakers' speaking rate.

Included in

Psychology Commons