15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

A Cross-Language Study of Vowel Categorization and Vowel Acoustics: Canadian English versus Canadian French

Paola Escudero (1), Linda Polka (2)

(1) Utrecht University, The Netherlands
(2) McGill University, Canada

We show the perception of Canadian French (CF) vowels by Canadian English (CE) listeners and test a cue-weighting hypothesis to explain the attested assimilation patterns. Five CF vowels, /i, y, u, ɛ, æ/, and three allophonic variants, [ɪ, ʏ, ʊ], were examined. The listeners completed a native-language identification task with goodness of fit judgments. We found that most French vowels were identified as more than one vowel category in English. Acoustic analyses of the vowel tokens revealed that the multiple mappings occur because the English listeners paid attention to both spectral and durational cues when identifying the French vowels. We claim that English listeners use the cue-weighting strategies of their first language when approaching a foreign-vowel identification task. We predict the specific problems that CE speakers will face when learning to categorize CF vowels and the possible solutions that they should entertain.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Escudero, Paola / Polka, Linda (2003): "A cross-language study of vowel categorization and vowel acoustics: Canadian English versus Canadian French", In ICPhS-15, 861-864.