The Perception of Voice Quality by Brazilian Bilinguals

Abstract Research has shown that bilingual speakers can alter their voice when speaking a foreign language in comparison to their voice in L1. It remains to be seen whether listeners perceive these differences. Thus, the present study explores the perception of voice quality by bilingual Brazilian listeners in speech in Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and English (EN) produced by bilingual Brazilian speakers. To achieve this objective, a voice discrimination task with semantically similar speech samples from the same speaker was carried out. Listeners judged if voices in LE were the same or different than voices in L1, describing their characteristics in case they were different. Results point to certain variability in judgements, but also reveal that listeners are capable of identifying differences in pitch and intensity between languages, as well as conferring characteristics of personality and emotion to the speech samples in both languages.