The Potential Role of Talker Age in the Perception of Regional Accent

Woobong Shin, Hyangwon Lee, Jiyoung Shin, Jeffrey J. Holliday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The speech signal contains potential cues to a wide range of socioindexical variables. The aim of the current study was to investigate how one variable, talker age, might interact with the perception of a theoretically independent variable, regional accent. We investigated this question specifically in the case of Korean: although many studies have reported on phonetic differences among Korean dialects and speakers’ beliefs and attitudes about them, there has been virtually no research on the auditory perception of such variation. Potential acoustic cues to regional accent were measured in read sentence productions from a total of 72 male talkers in their 20s or 50s to 60s from six Korean provinces. Then, in a perception experiment, native listeners from Seoul (n = 21), Gyeongsang (n = 10), and Jeolla (n = 10) listened to the sentences and were asked to identify the talker’s regional origin from among 6 provinces. Listeners’ responses correlated with talker age: young talkers were disproportionately perceived as being from Seoul, and old talkers—even life-long Seoul residents—were disproportionately perceived as being from non-Seoul regions. A follow-up experiment with listeners from Seoul (n = 30) in which talker age was treated as a between-subjects factor showed an attenuated effect, suggesting that the effect of talker age on perceived regional origin may be partially driven by a contrast effect, such that the speech of older talkers is perceived as less standard—and thus coming from a non-Seoul region—when being directly compared with that of younger talkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-505
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage and Speech
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the audience of the 24th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference for helpful feedback, and Cynthia Clopper for initially suggesting the between-subjects design of experiment 2. Any remaining errors are the authors’ alone. The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by SPO Research Grant #12168092300 awarded to Jiyoung Shin.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Dialect perception
  • Korean
  • sociophonetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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