Author(s): Murray J Munro
The effect of the presence of cafeteria noise on the perception of native English and Mandarin-accented speech was assessed in a sentence-verification task and a sentence-transcription (dictee) task. Ten advanced-level ESL learners and a comparison group of native English speakers read a set of simple true or false statements. These were presented in quiet and noisy conditions to 24 native English listeners who assessed their truth value and wrote out the utterances they heard. The outcomes of both tasks indicated strong adverse effects of noise on the intelligibility of many of the accented utterances. In fact, of the set of items that were verified perfectly in the noise-free condition, the Mandarin-accented ones were significantly less well verified in noise than the native English ones were. A large degree of interspeaker variability was also noted, particularly for the Mandarin speakers.