Bilingual Comprehension of Accented Speech and Spoken Code Switches

Liam John Gleason, University of Texas at El Paso


Across three experiments, the current study explored how accented speech and coarticulation impact how bilingual listeners comprehend code-switches in speech. Eye-tracking methodology was used to compare responses to single-language and code-switched sentences. Experiment 1 observed how accented speech influenced the costs involved in comprehending code-switches by comparing responses to speakers that had North American English accents to speakers with Juarez/El Paso Spanish accents when speaking English. Experiment 2 compared responses to English speech produced by speakers with North American English, Flemish, and Bulgarian accented speakers. To examine coarticulation as a cue to an upcoming code-switch, Experiment 3 compared naturally produced speech to speech that manipulated coarticulation prior to a code-switch. Results demonstrated that switch costs are involved in the comprehension of code-switches, non-English accents impact a listeners’ comprehension of English speech, and the relative impacts of accent on switch costs vary across accent types. Additionally, the subtle cue of coarticulation assists listeners when comprehending code-switches. These findings suggest that bilinguals may use accent as a cue to anticipate upcoming speech. However, when a cue is deemed unreliable based on a bilingual’s previous experiences, the listener then uses sub-lexical cues such as coarticulation to facilitate the comprehension of code-switches.

Subject Area

Cognitive psychology|Linguistics|Bilingual education|Speech therapy

Recommended Citation

Gleason, Liam John, "Bilingual Comprehension of Accented Speech and Spoken Code Switches" (2024). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI31298222.