ASA 128th Meeting - Austin, Texas - 1994 Nov 28 .. Dec 02

3aSP5. Learning to perceive and produce American English vowels: A study of speakers of Brazilian Portuguese.

Marialice Szpigel

Dept. Speech, Commun. Sci., and Theatre, St. John's Univ., 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11439

Fredericka Bell-Berti

St. John's Univ., Jamaica, NY 11439

Haskins Labs., New Haven, CT 06511

Brazilians who are fluent in English have more difficulty perceiving and producing American English vowels than consonants. This study examines vowel perception and production by ten native speakers of Brazilian Portuguese who had begun the sixth year of study of American English (at the Instituto Brasil-Estados Unidos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). At this level, all students are able to speak English fluently, but with varying degrees of proficiency; within the program constraints, the subjects were chosen to represent different levels of English proficiency. These bilinguals' perception of American English vowels (produced by native speakers of American English) will be compared to the reported perception of American English vowels [G. Peterson and H. Barney, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 39, 151--184 (1952)]. The bilinguals' productions of 15 American English vowels were identified by six teachers of English (three native Americans and three native Brazilians), with extensive experience teaching English. Ability to perceive the American English vowels will be related to production ability, for the group and for the two best and two poorest students. [Work supported by St. John's University and by NIH Grant No. DC-00121 to the Haskins Laboratories.]