Previous research in speech perception has yielded two sets of findings which are brought together in the present study. First, it has been shown that normal hearing listeners use visible as well as acoustical information when processing speech. Second, it has been shown that there is an effect of specific language experience on speech perception such that adults often have difficulty identifying and discriminating non-native phones. The present investigation was designed to extend and combine these two sets of findings. Two studies were conducted using six consonant-vowel syllables (/ba/, /va/, /alpha a/, /da/, /3a/, and /ga/ five of which occur in French and English, and one (the interdental fricative /alpha a/) which occurs only in English. In Experiment 1, an effect of specific linguistic experience was evident for the auditory identification of the non-native interdental stimulus by French-speakers. In Experiment 2, it was shown that the effect of specific language experience extends to the perception of the visible information in speech. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for our understanding of cross-language processes in speech perception and for our understanding of the development of bimodal speech perception.
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