YOUNG AND OLD LISTENERS' PERCEPTION OF SPEECH IN A BACKGROUND OF ENGLISH- AND FOREIGN-ACCENTED BABBLE

  • Antje Heinrich
  • Korlin Bruhn
  • Sarah Hawkins

Abstract

We investigated the effect of various background voice accents on the intelligibility of speech spoken in the native accent of the listener. Studies so far have only examined the influence of target speech accent on intelligibility, but not the influence of background babble accent or that of age. Our babble contained one, three or eight talkers who spoke English with a British (BE), American (AE), South Indian (Ind) or Neapolitan Italian (Ital) accent. We tested 64 young (mean age: 21.3 years) and 48 old (66.7 years) British English-speakting listeners with normal hearing. Babble was most disruptive to intelligibility when it was Ind-accented and contained more than one voice. Moreover, integilligibity decreased more in young than old listeners when the number of background voices increased. Hence, the accent of background speech affects intelligibility of natively-accented target speech and the effect of age interacts with the number of background speakers.
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