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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Learning a Second Language Influences Perception of L1 Sounds

Lucrecia Rallo Fabra

Universitat Ramon Llull, Spain

This study explores interferences of L2 learning in the perception of L1 sounds. We examined perception of Catalan vowels by Catalan monolinguals (CMs) and Catalan speakers of English (CSEs) with limited exposure to the L2. In a perceptual identification task both groups of listeners were instructed to identify Catalan and English vowels in terms of the seven native Catalan categories [i e ɛ a ɔ o u]. As expected, CMs perceived all native categories as intended. However, CSEs perceived Catalan [e] as [i] and Catalan [o] as [ɔ]. These results suggest that CSEs probably heard Catalan [e] as instances of English [ɪ] and also that they could not discriminate the Catalan [o] - [ɔ] contrast. These findings have important implications for the Speech Learning Model (Flege 1995). Apparently, the perceptual systems of CSEs may eventually adapt to accommodate new sounds at the cost of losing perceptual sensitivity to some of the native phonetic contrasts.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Fabra, Lucrecia Rallo (2003): "Learning a second language influences perception of L1 sounds", In ICPhS-15, 1517-1520.