Kudera, Jacek; Stenger, Irina; Möbius, Bernd; Avgustinova, Tania; Klakow, Dietrich

Phonetic cues in auditory identification of Bulgarian, Czech, Polish, and Russian language of origin

Language and Speech, 2022.

This work presents the results of an auditory language of origin identification experiment. Disyllabic and trisyllabic logatomes were recorded by speakers of Bulgarian, Czech, Polish, and Russian, and presented to L1 speakers of the abovementioned Slavic languages. The goals of the test were to verify the ability of lay listeners to recognize the linguistic origin of speakers, based on spoken samples with limited segmental and suprasegmental information, and to correlate the signal features with the subjects’ performance. It was found that position of word stress is not an important predictor in language recognition. However, inherent vowel characteristics such as duration and vowel space computed by the means of Pillai scores correlate with subjects’ performance. Both the linguistic profile and the familiarity with closely related languages also appear to be relevant predictors of listeners’ performance. Finally, the information-theoretic notion of surprisal applied on regular cross-linguistic sound correspondences was correlated with recognition scores; though, the correlations did not reach the threshold of statistical significance. We conclude that auditory identification of linguistic origin by lay persons, native speakers of closely related languages, is possible even when exposed to limited segmental information, which can serve as a cue in the identification of linguistic origin.