Every utterance is acoustically unique – speech sounds exist on a spectrum. Categorical perception is the process that allows us to match a specific token to its generalized type.
Consonant contrasts convey the perceptual distinctiveness of sounds in a language. This is evident in the distinction between Consonant Clusters (CC) and Consonant Vowel Consonant sounds (CVC). This page will explore the backgrounds of both CC and CVC as well as explain why the phenomena are important to sound perception. The page will also compare English to other languages in reference to CC and CVC.
A person's perceptual performance with non-native speech categories can be influenced by the listener's native language. This is known as Linguistic Experience. Our linguistic experience is constrained by both the phonological and phonetic properties of our first language (L1). Phonological properties are contrastive and categorical, and phonetic properties are normally gradient and within-category. Following is a brief description of research done on the effects of linguistic experience on non-native speech perception.