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LINGUIST List 17.2429

Tue Aug 29 2006

Diss: Phonetics/Lang Acquisition: Morrison: 'L1 & L2 Production and...'

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        1.    Geoffrey Morrison, L1 & L2 Production and Perception of English and Spanish Vowels: A statistical modelling approach


Message 1: L1 & L2 Production and Perception of English and Spanish Vowels: A statistical modelling approach
Date: 28-Aug-2006
From: Geoffrey Morrison <gsm2bu.edu>
Subject: L1 & L2 Production and Perception of English and Spanish Vowels: A statistical modelling approach


Institution: University of Alberta
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Geoffrey Stewart Morrison

Dissertation Title: L1 & L2 Production and Perception of English and Spanish Vowels: A statistical modelling approach

Dissertation URL: http://cns.bu.edu/~gsm2

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
                            Phonetics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)
                            Spanish (spa)

Dissertation Director:
Terrance Nearey

Dissertation Abstract:

The present study explores L1-Spanish speakers' learning of the English
/i/-/I/ contrast via acoustic analysis of vowel productions and perception
of synthetic stimuli. L1-English, L1-Spanish, and L2-Spanish perception and
production are also explored. The vowels examined are English /i/, /I/,
adjacent English /e/, /E/, and Spanish /i/, /ei/, /e/. The acoustic
properties examined are vowel duration, and initial and final first- and
second-formant values. Diphthongisation / vowel inherent spectral change
(VISC) is an important factor in the perception of /I/ in the Canadian
English dialect examined. Consistent with current theories that L1 and L2
learners build speech sound categories on the basis of the statistical
distribution of acoustic properties, discriminant analysis and logistic
regression are used to build models of production and perception data.
Models trained on monolingual Spanish data predict that Spanish listeners
just beginning to learn English will perceive most instances of English /i/
as Spanish /i/, and most instances of English /I/ as Spanish /e/; hence
English /i/ and /I/ will be easily distinguished. However, cross-sectional
and longitudinal data from L1-Spanish learners of English suggest that they
confuse English /i/ and /I/, and begin to distinguish them via a
multidimensional category-goodness-difference assimilation to Spanish /i/.
A minority of L2-English learners are hypothesised to label
more-Spanish-/i/-like vowels (short duration, low F1, zero VISC) as English
/i/, and less-Spanish-/i/-like vowels (longer duration, higher F1,
converging VISC) as English /I/. Since spectral cues are used in the same
direction by L1-English listeners and are most important for L1-English
listeners, this immediately results in relatively L1-English-like
perception. However, the results for the majority of L2-English
participants were consistent with them beginning with the reverse
labelling, and, since only duration cues are positively correlated with
L1-English speakers' productions, increased exposure to English leads to a
greater weighting for duration cues. Eventually L1-English-like use of
spectral cues may be bootstrapped off duration cues. The initial
association of English /I/ with good examples of Spanish /i/ is
hypothesised to be due to (mis)education/orthography, rather than
phonetic/perceptual factors.



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