|Title:||Bilingual Acquisition of Speech Timing: Aspects of rhythm production by German-English families||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Nicole Whitworth||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||University of Leeds, Department of Linguistics & Phonetics|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Phonetics; Language Acquisition;|
|Abstract:||This study explores the acquisition of speech timing by consecutive and simultaneous German-English bilinguals. The aim was to contribute to answers to the following questions: (1) What are the differences between the acquisitional processes employed in second language acquisition and bilingual first language acquisition? (2) In how far do both types of bilinguals acquire different finegrained phonetic patterns in two closely related languages? (3) At what age do these patterns emerge in the speech of the simultaneous bilinguals, if at all? The ultimate aim was to integrate the findings of this study into current models oflanguage production.
The bilinguals have been recruited from three families resident in the West Yorkshire area of Great Britain. The adult males are all native speakers of English and the adult females are native speakers of German. They have acquired German or English as a second language after puberty in both taught and immersion environments. The children ranging in age from 5;0 to 13;2 have been exposed to German and English from birth.
The variables investigated in this study are speech rhythm, vowel duration, and the realisation of prevocalic between-word junctures. Speech rhythm has been measured in terms of the variability of successive vocalic and intervocalic interval length using the Pairwise Variability Index (PVI). With regard to vowels the durational differences between LAX and TENSE vowels and differences in vowel duration conditioned by the VOICING of the following obstruent. The realisation of prevocalic word boundaries was analysed in terms of the relative occurrence of laryngeal and supralaryngeal realisations.
The results show that both consecutive and simultaneous bilinguals are aware of fine-grained phonetic detail and attempt to reproduce it in their speech. The acquisitional processes influencing BL1 and L2 productions are largely the same. Both are affected in particular by the relative markedness of the detail to be acquired. In both speaker groups an already existing similar phonetic structure may be used to substitute the target structure if it has not yet been acquired or an immature structure may be used. The data investigated provides further evidence that the period between 5 and 13 years after birth is used to fine-tune motor skills required for speech production.