Directional asymmetries in vowel perception of adult nonnative listeners do not change over time with language experience

Kriengwatana, B. P. and Escudero, P. (2017) Directional asymmetries in vowel perception of adult nonnative listeners do not change over time with language experience. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 60(4), pp. 1088-1093. (doi: 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-16-0050) (PMID:28334346)

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Purpose: This study tested an assumption of the Natural Referent Vowel (Polka & Bohn, 2011) framework, namely, that directional asymmetries in adult vowel perception can be influenced by language experience. Method: Data from participants reported in Escudero and Williams (2014) were analyzed. Spanish participants categorized the Dutch vowels /aː/ and /ɑ/ in 2 separate sessions: before and after vowel distributional training. Sessions were 12 months apart. Categorization was assessed using the XAB task, where on each trial participants heard 3 sounds sequentially (first X, then A, then B) and had to decide whether X was more similar to A or B. Results: Before training, participants exhibited a directional asymmetry in line with the prediction of Natural Referent Vowel. Specifically, Spanish listeners performed worse when the vowel change from X to A was a change from peripheral to central vowel (/ɑ/ to /aː/). However, this asymmetry was maintained 12 months later, even though distributional training improved vowel categorization performance. Conclusions: Improvements in adult nonnative vowel categorization accuracy are not explained by attenuation of directional asymmetries. Directional asymmetries in vowel perception are altered during native language acquisition, but may possibly be impervious to nonnative language experiences in adulthood.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kriengwatana, Dr Pralle
Authors: Kriengwatana, B. P., and Escudero, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research
Publisher:American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ISSN (Online):1558-9102

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