Linguistics graduate students Jiseung Kim and Emily Sabo were the featured speakers for the final departmental colloquium event of the semester on Friday, December 6.

Jiseung Kim presented "Individual differences in the production and perception of prosodic boundaries in American English."

Emily Sabo presented "Does speaker accent influence bilingual word processing?"



Individual differences in the production and perception of prosodic boundaries in American English

by Jiseung Kim

We investigate the hypothesis that individual participants vary in their production and perception of prosodic boundaries, and that the acoustic properties they use to encode prosodic contrasts are closely related to the properties used to perceive those contrasts. An acoustic study examined 32 native speakers’ production of sentences containing IP and word boundaries. Twenty participants returned and participated in an eye-tracking study where they listened to stimuli that were manipulated to include different combinations of the acoustic properties associated with IP boundaries. The results indicate large variability in both production and perception, and provide evidence for production of the boundary cues influencing the same individuals’ perception. 


Does speaker accent influence bilingual word processing?

by Emily Rae Sabo

During sentence comprehension, how does the accent of a speaker interact with a bilingual listener’s lexical knowledge to influence word processing? This project will address this question by examining the N400 responses of highly fluent Spanish-English bilingual listeners as they process lexical errors, particularly FALSE COGNATES from Spanish into English (e.g. Eng. ‘embarrassed’ == [[pregnant]] because Sp. ‘embarazada’ == [[pregnant]]). An example of a false cognate from Spanish in sentential context could be as follows: "My wife and I have wanted kids for so long. We're so excited to announce that she is finally embarrassed." The question here is whether the accent of the speaker who uttered the false cognate error affects how the bilingual listeners interprets and/or resolves the error during sentence comprehension. The study will employ a 3 x 3 design: ErrorType (NoError, SpanishError, OtherError) and SpeakerAccent (L1-MUSE-accented English, L2-Spanish-accented English, L2-Other-accented English). The results will shed light on the role of speaker accent during bilingual word prediction and semantic integration.