The effect of different speaker accents on sentence comprehension in children with speech sound disorder
Clinical linguistics & phonetics | 28 Dec 2017
J Harte, P Frizelle and F Gibbon
There is substantial evidence that a speaker’s accent, specifically an unfamiliar accent, can affect the listener’s comprehension. In general, this effect holds true for both adults and children as well as those with typical and impaired language. Previous studies have investigated the effect of different accents on individuals with language disorders, but children with speech sound disorders (SSDs) have received little attention. The current study aims to learn more about the ability of children with SSD to process different speaker accents. Fifteen children with SSD aged between 4;01 and 5;11 years, and 16 typically developing children matched on language ability, age, socioeconomic status, gender and cognitive ability participated in the current study. A sentence comprehension task was carried out with each child, requiring them to follow instructions of increasing length spoken in three different accents - (i) a local Irish (Cork) accent, (ii) a regional North American accent and (iii) a non-native Indian English accent. Results showed no significant group difference and speaker accent did not significantly impact children’s performance on the task. The results are discussed in relation to factors that influence accent comprehension, and their implications for children’s underlying phonological representations.
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