Listener sensitivity to foreign-accented speech with grammatical errors


The present accent rating study investigates the interaction between accent strength and grammatical correctness on perceived accentedness. German native (L1) listeners rated German sentences produced by L1 and non-native (L2) speakers. Sentences either contained a grammatical error or were grammatically correct. Results showed that grammatical correctness affected the accent rating of sentences produced by L1 speakers, but not of those by L2 speakers. The inverse influence of grammatical errors on sentences spoken with stronger accents suggests that phonological information plays a more important role for global perception of speech accentedness than grammatical correctness does, revealing a hierarchical importance of factors that form an L2 accent. This finding is in line with recent findings from an online processing ERP study (Hanulíková, van Alphen, van Goch, & Weber, 2012) in which L1 listeners were tolerant towards grammatical errors made by L2 speakers, i.e. showed no P600 effect for grammatically incorrect sentences.

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