Increase in speech recognition due to linguistic mismatch between target and masker speech: monolingual and simultaneous bilingual performance

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2014 Jun 1;57(3):1089-97. doi: 10.1044/2013_JSLHR-H-12-0378.


Purpose: To examine whether improved speech recognition during linguistically mismatched target-masker experiments is due to linguistic unfamiliarity of the masker speech or linguistic dissimilarity between the target and masker speech.

Method: Monolingual English speakers (n = 20) and English-Greek simultaneous bilinguals (n = 20) listened to English sentences in the presence of competing English and Greek speech. Data were analyzed using mixed-effects regression models to determine differences in English recogition performance between the 2 groups and 2 masker conditions.

Results: Results indicated that English sentence recognition for monolinguals and simultaneous English-Greek bilinguals improved when the masker speech changed from competing English to competing Greek speech.

Conclusion: The improvement in speech recognition that has been observed for linguistically mismatched target-masker experiments cannot be simply explained by the masker language being linguistically unknown or unfamiliar to the listeners. Listeners can improve their speech recognition in linguistically mismatched target-masker experiments even when the listener is able to obtain meaningful linguistic information from the masker speech.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Linguistics*
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Multilingualism*
  • Noise
  • Perceptual Masking*
  • Phonetics
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Speech Perception*
  • Speech*
  • Young Adult