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

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

Effects of L1 Phonotactic Constraints on L2 Speech Perception

Bernard L. Rochet, Anne Putnam Rochet

University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

A psychoacoustic experiment was carried out to establish the perceptual correlates of a vowel contrast neutralization (European French /e/ and /ɛ/) observed in production. The results show that subjects categorized the same synthetic vowel continuum into 3 categories (/i/, /e/, and /ɛ/) for CV tokens; and into 2 categories (/i/ and /ɛ/) for CVC tokens. This finding provides an explanation for the fact that francophones usually replace the last vowel of English "happy" with /e/, and the last vowel of English "presented" with /i/, a result that cannot be explained by comparing the physical attributes of these English vowels and those of the French vowels that are used to replace them. Rather, it appears that phonotactic constraints may play an important role in the perception of second-language speech sounds.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Rochet, Bernard L. / Rochet, Anne Putnam (1999): "Effects of L1 phonotactic constraints on L2 speech perception", In ICPhS-14, 1443-1446.