Consonant Challenge: Perceptual Data of the Native Listeners

Experimental Set-up

Twenty seven native English listeners aged between 18 and 48 who reported no hearing problems identified the 384 VCVs of the test set. Listeners were drawn from the staff and students at the University of Sheffield and were paid for their participation. Perception tests ran under computer control in the IAC booth. Listeners were presented with a screen layout as shown in Figure 1 on which the 24 consonants were represented using both ASCII symbols and with an example word containing the sound. Listeners were phonetically-naive and were given instructions as to the meaning of each symbol. They underwent a short practice session prior to the main test. Two listeners failed to reach a criterion level of 85% in a practice session using clean tokens. Another failed to complete all conditions, while a fourth was an outlier on most of the test conditions. Results are reported for the remaining 23 listeners. For the main test, listeners started with the clean condition. The order of the noisy conditions was randomised.

We welcome further contributions of listener results from native British English, other native English and non-native populations. We can make available MATLAB software for running listening tests if needed. Note that we anticipate that listening to the full range of tests will take 90-120 minutes in addition to the time taken for hearing tests and practice. Please contact the organisers for further information and to ensure that potential contributions are as useful as possible.


The native listener results, averaged over all consonants and all listeners, are shown in the table below for each of the test conditions separately:

Test set 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Rec. rate 93.8 79.5 76.5 72.2 66.7 79.2 71.4
Std. err. 0.57 0.78 0.79 0.75 0.77 0.61 0.74

Confusions matrices and Transmitted Information has been calculated for each of the test conditions separately:

The diagonal of the confusion matrices shows the percentage correct responses. Vertically: the phoneme that was produced; horizontally: the phoneme that was recognised.

The table used to calculate the Transmitted Information for manner, place, and voicing can be downloaded here.

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