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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Consonantal Context Affects Cross-Language Perception of Vowels

Ocke-Schwen Bohn (1), Anja K. Steinlen (2)

(1) Aarhus University, Denmark
(2) Kiel University, Germany

This study examined whether and how cross-language perception of vowels is affected by the consonantal context in which vowels occur. Native Danish (DK) listeners identified the 11 monophthongs of Southern British English (SBE), produced in three consonantal contexts (/hVt/, /dVt/, /gVk/), using DK response categories, and the listeners provided goodness ratings of their interlingual identifications. Responses indicate that perceptual assimilation of some vowels is strongly affected by consonantal context. Results are interpreted by referring to the results of an acoustic study (Steinlein, 2002) which showed that the location of DK vowels in the F1/F2 space is minimally affected by flanking consonants, whereas the center frequencies of SBE vowels are strongly affected by consonantal context. Apparently, DK listeners transfer their native expectations about (lack of) vowel coarticulation to SBE. Our results suggest that patterns of perceptual assimilation (and predictions of learning difficulty) of nonnative vowels depend upon the phonetic contexts of vowels.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Bohn, Ocke-Schwen / Steinlen, Anja K. (2003): "Consonantal context affects cross-language perception of vowels", In ICPhS-15, 2289-2292.