Molly Babel, Line Lloy, Khushi Patil and Khia Johnson will give a research seminar.
Title: Language-general versus language-specific processes in bilingual voice learning
Abstract: Language experience confers a benefit to voice learning, a concept described in the literature as the language familiarity effect (LFE). A divide in the literature is whether and how generative language knowledge bestows an advantage in voice learning beyond implicit knowledge of a language’s sound structure. We contribute empirically and theoretically to this debate by examining within and across language voice learning with Cantonese-English bilingual voices. By testing listeners from four language backgrounds, we assess whether the LFE and group-level differences in voice learning are due to varying abilities to access the relative acoustic-phonetic features that distinguish a voice, to learn at a given rate, or to generalize learning of talker-voice associations to novel same-language and different-language utterances. The four language background groups allow us to investigate the roles of language-specific familiarity, tone language experience, and generic multilingual experience in voice learning. Differences in performance across listener groups show evidence in support of the LFE and of the role of two mechanisms for voice learning: the extraction and association of talker-specific, language-general information that can be more robustly generalized across languages, and talker-specific, language-specific information that may be more readily accessible and learnable, but due to its language-specific nature, is less able to be extended to another language.