International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, Vol 6, No 2 (1999)

Listeners and disguised voices: the imitation and perception of dialectal accent

Duncan Markham
Issued Date: 9 Mar 2007


This paper presents an experimental investigation into whether a group of speakers could produce convincing text readings in various dialectal accents of Swedish, and the performance of listeners in identifying the accents and determining whether the accents were natural or a disguise. It was observed that individual speakers vary greatly in their ability to produce plausible imitations of accents and to mask their own dialectal background. Examination of the listeners' perceptual strategies contributes an important dimension to the understanding of reasoning processes in earwitnesses. The linguistically trained listeners were found to use combinations of accent markers as cues to the degree of naturalness, although some of the judgements reflected misconceptions or preconceived ideas about the possible forms of specific accents. The hazards of using speakers with certain accent features in voice line-ups and the potential problems associated with earwitness accent identification are discussed.

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DOI: 10.1558/sll.1999.6.2.289


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