‘Haspmmomentsait?’ How naturally reduced speech challenges listening comprehension in a first and second language
When speaking naturally, native speakers shorten and merge words constantly. English native speakers, for instance, may pronounce “Do you know what I mean” as “nahpmeam”. Such reductions arise according to language-specific rules and are one of the major sources of variation in natural speech. In this talk, I will explain the phenomenon and then present the results of a recently finished project in which we examined the effect of reductions on listening comprehension in adolescent first- and second-language listeners. These results include evidence that first-language speech perception is still developing in adolescents (despite the focus in the literature on speech development in the first year of life). The findings also shed light on what precisely is still developing. (After all, adolescents seem very well capable of understanding their first language; so what is the challenge?) Finally, the results clarify how reductions obstruct adolescents’ second-language listening comprehension, and how this is related to first-language development. Haspmmomentsait? (Can you guess the target language?) Then join us!