Does Speaker Race Affect the Assessment of Children's Speech Accuracy? A Comparison of Speech-Language Pathologists and Clinically Untrained Listeners Purpose Some pronunciation patterns that are normal in 1 dialect might represent an error in another dialect (i.e., [koʊl] for cold, which is typical in African American English [AAE] but an error in many other dialects of English). This study examined whether trained speech-language pathologists and untrained listeners accommodate for ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 24, 2018
Does Speaker Race Affect the Assessment of Children's Speech Accuracy? A Comparison of Speech-Language Pathologists and Clinically Untrained Listeners
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Karen E. Evans
    Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Benjamin Munson
    Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Jan Edwards
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Benjamin Munson: Munso005@umn.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray
    Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray×
  • Editor: Ignatius Nip
    Editor: Ignatius Nip×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 24, 2018
Does Speaker Race Affect the Assessment of Children's Speech Accuracy? A Comparison of Speech-Language Pathologists and Clinically Untrained Listeners
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2018, Vol. 49, 906-921. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0120
History: Received October 29, 2017 , Revised February 7, 2018 , Accepted February 27, 2018
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2018, Vol. 49, 906-921. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0120
History: Received October 29, 2017; Revised February 7, 2018; Accepted February 27, 2018

Purpose Some pronunciation patterns that are normal in 1 dialect might represent an error in another dialect (i.e., [koʊl] for cold, which is typical in African American English [AAE] but an error in many other dialects of English). This study examined whether trained speech-language pathologists and untrained listeners accommodate for presumed speaker dialect when rating children's productions of words. This study also explored whether effects of presumed race on perceived speech accuracy are mediated by individuals' knowledge and beliefs about AAE and their implicit attitudes about race.

Method Multiple groups of listeners rated the accuracy of a set of children's productions of words that have a distinct pronunciation in AAE. These were presented in 1 of 3 conditions: paired with no visual stimulus (to assess baseline accuracy) or paired with either African American children's faces (to suggest that the speaker uses AAE) or European American children's faces (to suggest that the speaker does not use AAE). Listeners also completed a set of measures of knowledge and attitudes about AAE and race, taken from previous studies.

Results Individuals in both groups rated children's productions more accurately when they were presented with African American children's faces than when paired with European American faces. The magnitude of this effect was generally similar across the 2 groups and was generally strongest for words that had been judged in the baseline condition to contain an error. None of the individual-differences measures predicted ratings.

Conclusions Assumptions about speaker attributes affect individuals' assessment of children's production accuracy. These effects are robust across trained and untrained listeners and cannot be predicted by existing measures of knowledge and attitudes about AAE and race.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by a Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Seed grant to Mark Seidenberg; by National Science Foundation Grant BCS0729140 to Jan Edwards; by National Institutes of Health Grant R01 DC02932 to Jan Edwards, Mary E. Beckman, and Benjamin Munson; and by National Institute of Child Health & Human Development Grant P30 HD03352 to the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin. Portions of this work were conducted as part of the first author's 2012 master's degree from the University of Minnesota. The authors thank Mark DeRuiter for his input on that document. The authors are very grateful to all of the adult participants and to the children who contributed the speech samples and their families. The authors also thank Mary E. Beckman for useful input on this work, Nicole Breunig who did the original transcriptions of the stimuli, both Hannah Julien and Veera Vasandani for comments on this article, and both Mandi Proue and Carol-June Leonard for valuable assistance in participant recruitment and testing.
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