Homebodies and army brats: Some effects of early linguistic experience and residential history on dialect categorization

Cynthia G. Clopper, David B. Pisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Scopus citations


Early linguistic experience has been shown to affect speech perception in a variety of ways. The present experiment investigated the effects of early linguistic experience on dialect perception. Two groups of participants listened to sentences read by talkers from six American English dialects and were asked to identify where they thought the talkers were from using a forced-choice categorization task. We found that “army brats,” who had lived in at least three different states, performed better than “homebodies,” who had lived only in Indiana, in terms of overall categorization accuracy. Army brats who had lived in a given region also categorized talkers from that region more accurately than army brats who had not lived there. Clustering analyses on the stimulus-response confusion matrices revealed significant differences in the perceptual similarity spaces for the two listener groups. These results suggest that early exposure to linguistic variation affects how well listeners can identify where unfamiliar talkers are from.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-48
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage Variation and Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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