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This paper presents a methodology to study the role of nonnative accents on talker recognition by humans. The methodology combines a state-of-the-art accent-conversion system to resynthesize the voice of a speaker with a different accent of her/his own, and a protocol for perceptual listening tests to measure the relative contribution of accent and voice quality on speaker similarity. Using a corpus of non-native and native speakers, we generated accent conversions in two different directions: non-native speakers with native accents, and native speakers with non-native accents. Then, we asked listeners to rate the similarity between 50 pairs of real or synthesized speakers. Using a linear mixed effects model, we find that (for our corpus) the effect of voice quality is five times as large as that of non-native accent, and that the effect goes away when speakers share the same (native) accent. We discuss the potential significance of this work in earwitness identification and sociophonetics.


This is an unpublished paper cited as Das, A., Zhao, G., Levis, J., Chukharev-Hudilainen, E., Gutierrez-Osuna, R., Understanding the Effect of Voice Quality and Accent on Talker Similarity. 2020. Posted with permission

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