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Native and nonnative speech in noise (Bieber et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-07-01, 18:50 authored by Rebecca E. Bieber, Matthew J. Makashay, Benjamin M. Sheffield, Douglas S. Brungart

Purpose: A corpus of English matrix sentences produced by 60 native and nonnative speakers of English was developed as part of a multinational coalition task group. This corpus was tested on a large cohort of U.S. Service members in order to examine the effects of talker nativeness, listener nativeness, masker type, and hearing sensitivity on speech recognition performance in this population.

Method: A total of 1,939 U.S. Service members (ages 18–68 years) completed this closed-set listening task, including 430 women and 110 nonnative English speakers. Stimuli were produced by native and nonnative speakers of English and were presented in speech-shaped noise and multitalker babble. Keyword recognition accuracy and response times were analyzed.

Results: General(ized) linear mixed-effects regression models found that, on the whole, speech recognition performance was lower for listeners who identified as nonnative speakers of English and when listening to speech produced by nonnative speakers of English. Talker and listener effects were more pronounced when listening in a babble masker than in a speech-shaped noise masker. Response times varied as a function of recognition score, with longest response times found for intermediate levels of performance.

Conclusions: This study found additive effects of talker and listener nonnativeness when listening to speech in background noise. These effects were present in both accuracy and response time measures. No multiplicative effects of talker and listener language background were found. There was little evidence of a negative interaction between talker nonnativeness and hearing impairment, suggesting that these factors may have redundant effects on speech recognition.

Supplemental Material S1. Better ear high frequency hearing sensitivity as a function of age.

Supplemental Material S2. Talkers included in the NATO Corpus.

Bieber, R. E., Makashay, M. J., Sheffield, B. M., & Brungart, D. S. (2024). Intelligibility of natively and nonnatively produced English speech presented in noise to a large cohort of United States service members. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 67(7), 2454–2472.


This work was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs through the Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program under Award W81XWH-18-2-0014 (Douglas S. Brungart).