On the relationship between identification and discrimination of non-native nasal consonants.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

PubMedID: 11508974

Harnsberger JD. On the relationship between identification and discrimination of non-native nasal consonants. J Acoust Soc Am. 2001;110(1):489-503.
To examine the relationship between the identification and discrimination of non-native sounds, nasal consonants varying in place of articulation from Malayalam, Marathi, and Oriya were presented in two experiments to seven listener groups varying in their native nasal consonant inventory: Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Oriya, Bengali, and American English. The experiments consisted of a categorial AXB discrimination test and a forced-choice identification test with category goodness ratings. The identification test results were used to classify the non-native contrasts as one of five "assimilation types" of the Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM) that are predicted to vary in their relative discriminability: two-category (TC), uncategorizable-categorizable (UC), both uncategorizable (UU), category-goodness (CG), and single-category (SC). The results showed that the mean percent correct discrimination scores of the assimilation types, but not the range of scores, were accurately predicted. Furthermore, differences in category goodness ratings in the CG and SC assimilations that were predicted to correlate with discrimination showed a weak, but significant correlation (r= 0.3 1, p<0.05). The implications of the results for models of cross-language speech perception were discussed, and an alternative model of cross-language speech perception was outlined, in which the discriminability of non-native contrasts is a function of the similarity of non-native sounds to each other in a multidimensional, phonologized perceptual space.