Non-native vowels perceived as speech-like but not identified with a particular native (L1) vowel are assimilated as uncategorised, and have received very little empirical attention. According to the Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM: Best, 1995), contrasts where one or both phones are uncategorised are Uncategorised-Categorised and Uncategorised-Uncategorised, respectively. We reasoned that discrimination accuracy for these assimilations should be influenced by perceived phonological overlap (i.e., overlap in the categorisations to L1 vowels), and predicted excellent discrimination for non-overlapping contrasts, followed by partially overlapping, and completely overlapping contrasts. To test those predictions, Australian English speakers discriminated between Danish monophthongal and diphthongal vowel contrasts that formed Uncategorised-Categorised and Uncategorised-Uncategorised assimilations, varying in the presence of overlap, in addition to Two-Category and Single-Category contrasts. The discrimination accuracy results supported our predictions. These findings have implications for PAM, and broader relevance to second-language learning models, as they allow for more precise discrimination predictions to be made based on assimilation type.
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- Cross-language speech perception
- Perceptual assimilation
- Uncategorised assimilations
- Perceived phonological overlap
- Discrimination accuracy