3pSC20. Comparing L2 production and perception: What level of analysis?

Session: Wednesday Afternoon, December 4

Time: 3:45

Author: James Emil Flege
Location: Dept. of Biocommun., Univ. of Alabama, VH 503, Birmingham, AL 35294


Very different conclusions might be drawn concerning the relation between production and perception of a second language (L2) if different levels of analysis are considered. A clear dissociation between production and perception exists at a global level of analysis. Non-natives who speak English with a strong foreign accent are able to scale foreign accents in English sentences much like native speakers of English. Other studies have compared the production of subsegmental acoustic properties that are important to phonetic distinctions (e.g., vowel duration differences in English words ending in /t/ vs /d/) to listeners' perceptual use of the ``same`` property (e.g., stimulus vowel duration as a cue to the identification of a final stop as /t/ or /d/). Such studies typically yield only modest correlations between production and perception. Ultimately, however, it may be most useful to consider the perception--perception relation at a categorical (segmental) level. A recent study tested for phonetic category formation by Spanish/English late bilinguals. Subjects who provided perceptual evidence for having established a new category for English /t/ (which differs phonetically from the short-lag Spanish /t/) produced a robust voice-onset time distinction between Spanish /t/ and English /t/. On the other hand, subjects who had apparently not established an English /t/ category produced English /t/ with Spanish-like VOT values. [Work supported by NIDCD.]

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996