Can kiwis and koalas as cultural primes induce perceptual bias in Australian English speaking listeners?

Michael Walker, Anita Szakay, Felicity Cox

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    11 Citations (Scopus)
    39 Downloads (Pure)


    The presence of culturally significant objects has been shown to induce biases in speech perception consistent with features of the dialect relevant to the object. Questions remain about the transferability of this effect to different dialect contexts, and the efficacy of the task in inducing the effect. This paper details an Australian-context experiment modelled on Hay and Drager’s (2010) New Zealand-context stuffed toy study. Seventy-five listeners heard spoken Australian English (AusE) phrases with phrase-final monosyllabic words containing either kit, dress, or trap vowels. Each phrase was followed by audio presentation of a six-step synthesized vowel continuum, from New Zealand English (NZE)-like to exaggerated AusE-like tokens. Listeners attempted to match one of the synthesized variants to the speaker’s realization of the target vowel. Listeners were exposed to one of two priming conditions, established by stuffed toy kiwis (New Zealand) and stuffed toy koalas (Australia), or a control condition (no toy). Contrary to Hay and Drager (2010), token selections did not differ significantly between the New Zealand and Australian priming conditions. However, reversing the order of continuum presentation did significantly affect token selection for kit vowels, raising questions about the task design itself. Results suggest that the influence of regional primes on speech perception may be more limited than previously thought.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number7
    Pages (from-to)1-29
    Number of pages29
    JournalLaboratory phonology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • speech perception
    • vowel perception
    • sociophonetics
    • Australian English
    • New Zealand English


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