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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Listeners identify voices more accurately in their native language than an unknown, foreign language, in a phenomenon known as the language-familiarity effect in talker identification. This effect has been reliably observed for a wide range of different language pairings and using a variety of different methodologies, including voice line-ups, talker-identification training, and talker discrimination. What do listeners know about their native language that helps them recognize voices more accurately? Do listeners gain access to this knowledge when they learn a second language? Is linguistic competence necessary, or can mere exposure to a foreign language help listeners identify voices more accurately? This chapter reviews the more than three decades of research on the language-familiarity effect in talker identification, with an emphasis on how attention to this phenomenon can inform not only better psychological and neural models of memory for voices, but also better models of speech processing.

Keywords: talker identification, voice recognition, language familiarity, native language, foreign language, speech perception, expertise, linguistic competence, phonetic variability

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