14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Effects of Native Language on the Perception of American English /r/ and /l/: A Comparison between Korean and Japanese

Ryo Komaki (1), Youngon Choi (2)

(1) ATR Human Information Processing Research Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan
(2) Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

This paper attempted to clarify the nature of the difficulties that second language (L2) learners have. Three experiments were conducted to examine the effects of the first language (Ll) on the perception of L2 speech contrasts. Specifically, perception of the American English (AE) /r/-/l/ contrast by Korean speakers and Japanese speakers was compared, and the following results were obtained. First, Korean speakers' overall perception ability was significantly higher than Japanese speakers'. However, Korean speakers' identification was biased toward /l/ responses while Japanese speakers' was not. Second, language-specific patterns were found in the identification task, i.e., syllabic positions difficult for Korean speakers were different from Japanese speakers. The pattern for Korean speakers was found to be explained by the perceptual assimilation of AE /r/-/l/ to Korean phonetic categories. The results are discussed in the context of current theories of cross-language speech perception.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Komaki, Ryo / Choi, Youngon (1999): "Effects of native language on the perception of American English /r/ and /l/: a comparison between Korean and Japanese", In ICPhS-14, 1429-1432.