Session Foreign Lang. Acqu. V:

Foreign Language Acquisition V: Vowels

Type: oral
Chair: Patricia Ashby
Date: Friday - August 10, 2007
Time: 13:20
Room: 5 (Blue)


Wim A. van Dommelen, Dep. of Language and Communication Studies, NTNU, Trondheim
Paper File
  This study looks into the production of Norwegian front and central vowels spoken by native and second language speakers with backgrounds from French and Russian, respectively. The vowels’ first three formants were measured and normalized to reduce the effect of speaker gender. Based on the vowel systems of the three languages involved, larger deviations in Russian than in French L2 productions were hypothesized. The expectations were to a certain degree borne out by the data. Apart from vowel pattern deviations, the two L2 groups’ productions differ in terms of the scatter of the formant values. The results demonstrate the difficulty of explaining L2 acquisition behaviour by existing models.
Foreign Lang. Acqu. V-2 Old sounds in new contrasts: L2 production of the English tense-tax vowel distinction
Juli Cebrian, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Paper File
  This paper examines the production of the English tense-lax contrast in high and mid front vowels by native speakers of Catalan. Despite the absence of temporal contrasts in the L1, Catalans have been found to rely on duration in their perception of English vowels. Some English vowels have been found to be perceived by Catalans as near identical to L1 vowels. This study explores this further by examining English speakers’ perception of Catalan vowels. In addition, reliance on temporal and spectral cues is assessed in an L2 production experiment. Results indicate that learners implement a temporal contrast but mostly fail to produce a spectral contrast even when perceived similarity data predicted accurate L2 production.
Foreign Lang. Acqu. V-3 Cross-language perceptual assimilation and discrimination of Southern British English vowels by Greek and Japanese learners of English
Angelos Lengeris, University College London
Valerie Hazan, University College London
Paper File Additional Files
  This study examined whether Greek (Gr) and Japanese (J) learners of English perceive the Southern British English (SBE) vowels in the same way. Both languages have five vowel qualities in their vowel inventories but only Japanese has short/long versions of each quality. Experiment 1 assessed the perceived relationship between the eleven SBE vowels (in /b_b/ and /b_p/ contexts) and the L2 vowel categories for both language groups via a cross-language mapping test. Experiment 2 assessed the discrimination of several SBE vowel contrasts by the same participants via a categorical oddity discrimination test. Differences between the two L2 groups in both experiments support the view that L2 perception cannot be predicted by an abstract phonological description of the two vowel systems. L1 experience with duration helps perception of some L2 contrasts; Gr listeners nonetheless seem to be able to use duration to some extent.

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