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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Bi-Level Input Processing Model of First and Second Language Perception Add Dissertation
Author: Izabelle Grenon Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Victoria, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2010
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonetics; Neurolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins
Sonya Bird

Abstract: The focus of the current work is the articulation of a model of speech
sound perception, which is informed by neurological processing, and which
accounts for psycholinguistic behavior related to the perception of
linguistic units such as features, allophones and phonemes.

The Bi-Level Input Processing (BLIP) model, as the name suggests, proposes
two levels of speech processing: the neural mapping level and the
phonological level. The model posits that perception of speech sounds
corresponds to the processing of a limited number of acoustic components by
neural maps tuned to these components, where each neural map corresponds to
a contrastive speech category along the relevant acoustic dimension in the
listener's native language. These maps are in turn associated with abstract
features at the phonological level, and the combination of multiple maps
can represent a segment (or phoneme), mora or syllable.

To evaluate the processing of multiple acoustic cues for categorization of
speech contrasts by listeners, it may be relevant to distinguish between
different types of processing. Three types of processing are identified and
described in this work: additive, connective and competitive.

The way speech categories are processed by the neurology in one's L1 may
impact the perception and acquisition of non-native speech contrasts later
in life. Accordingly, five predictions about the perception of non-native
contrasts by mature listeners are derived from the proposals of the BLIP
model. These predictions are exemplified and supported by means of four
perceptual behavioral experiments. Experiments I and II evaluate the use of
spectral information (changes in F1 and F2) and vowel duration for
identification of an English vowel contrast ('beat' vs. 'bit') by native
North American English, Japanese and Canadian French speakers. Experiments
III and IV evaluate the use of vowel duration and periodicity for
identification of an English voicing contrast ('bit' vs. 'bid') by the same
speakers. Results of these experiments demonstrate that the BLIP model
correctly predicts sources of difficulty for L2 learners in perceiving
non-native sounds, and that, in many cases, L2 learners are able to
capitalize on their sensitivity to acoustic cues used in L1 to perceive
novel (L2) contrasts, even if those contrasts are neutralized at the
phonological level in L1. Hence, the BLIP model has implications not only
for the study of L1 development and cross-linguistic comparisons, but also
for a better understanding of L2 perception. Implications of this novel
approach to L2 research for language education are briefly discussed.