Detecting Foreign Accents in Song
Phonetica , Volume 76 - Issue 6 p. 429- 447
This paper presents three experiments exploring the perception and production of accents in song. In a perception experiment, participants listened to passages sung and spoken by native and non-native speakers of English. The participants did better at identifying native speakers when listening to the spoken passages. Accents were also judged as more native-like in song than in speech. In addition, two production experiments compared the acoustic characteristics (pitch, duration, F1 and F2) of sung and spoken vowels, produced by native and non-native speakers of English. Both native and non-native speakers changed the pitch and duration of their vowels when singing; the vowel quality was not consistently shifted. Together, the results indicate that the melody imposed by the song impacts the suprasegmental properties of pronunciation whereas the segmental properties remain largely intact. Based on these results, we conclude that a main reason why accents are more difficult to detect in song than in speech is that the rhythm and melody imposed by the song mask intonational cues to accent.