The influence of ethnic speaker information on alveolar initial fricatives in Dutch
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This study presents a research on the influence of ethnic speaker information on perception. A typical of Moroccan Dutch, an ethnolect variety spoken in the Netherlands, is to pronounce alveolar initial fricative /z/ with more voicing and dentalization compared to standard Dutch. Therefore, it was examined whether the perception of /z/ and /s/ would be influenced if the listener was told that the speaker was of Moroccan Dutch background. The experiment consisted of identification task in which participants had to distinguish between the Dutch words /ze/ ‘sea’ and /se/ ‘c’ (the letter), and a survey that measured self-reported contact with Moroccan Dutch speakers. The identification task was presented in two conditions. In one condition the participant was told the speaker they were going to listen to was of Moroccan descent and in the other condition the participant was told that the speaker was Dutch. The expectation was to find that in the Moroccan Dutch condition, the stimuli would more often be perceived as /ze/, as it is typical for Moroccan Dutch speakers to voice the /z/ more. In the Dutch condition the expectation was that the stimuli would more often be perceived as /se/. Moreover, it was expected that the amount of contact would facilitate the effect that was expected, i.e. the more contact a participant reported, the more their perception would differ between the conditions. Unfortunately, this result was not found in the present study. Rather, it was found that participants from a smaller municipality and who reported less contact, perceived /ze/ more often in the Moroccan Dutch condition. On average, the psychometric curve of the Moroccan Dutch condition was shifted compared to the Dutch condition. This result has implications for further research in the field of speech perception and sociolinguistic variables, because it shows that contact might actually decrease the effect of ethnic speaker information on perception.