Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Carl A. Coelho, Dr. Emily B. Myers

Field of Study

Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences


Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Recent findings indicate that listeners are sensitive to talker differences in phonetic properties of speech, including voice-onset-time (VOT) in word-initial stop consonants. The current work extends our earlier research by examining the degree to which listeners adjust the initial mapping from acoustic signal to segmental representation on a talker-specific basis. Two groups of listeners are exposed to a talker producing “cane.” Word-initial VOTs are manipulated such that one group hears “cane” produced with short VOTs and the other group hears “cane” produced with relatively longer VOTs. Following training, listeners’ voicing boundary for a /g/-/k/ continuum was tested. In addition, listeners were tested on phonetic category space by rating members of the continuum for typicality as /k/. The results showed that listeners robustly modified the internal structure of the phonetic category such that the members of the continuum rated most prototypical were contingent on exposure during the training phases. However, no effects of training were observed on the voicing boundary. These findings suggest that listeners begin to accommodate talker-specific phonetic variation at the earliest stages of mapping between the acoustic signal and linguistic representation. Moreover these findings suggest that the ways in which a listener accommodates for talker-specific phonetic variation is very much dependent on the nature of a talker’s characteristic productions.

Major Advisor

Dr. Rachel M. Theodore