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Segmental production in bilingual speech a psycholinguistic approach /

by Jacobs, April Lynn.

Abstract (Summary)
iii A great deal of past psycholinguistic research has focused on the mechanisms that govern bilingual lexical processing. There is general agreement in the field that the bilingual lexicon is nonselective in nature, meaning that a bilingual individual is incapable of “turning off” his/her other language currently not in use within any given language context; therefore, the lexical counterpart that is not in use at any moment remains active in the mind of the bilingual. Research focusing on the acquisition of L2 phonology, on the other hand, has provided a great deal of evidence toward the notion of sound similarity being a detriment to ultimate attainment of authentic L2 phonetic production. In other words, if there is a phonemic counterpart between a learner’s two languages, the phonemic boundaries, or the categorical phonetic properties of a particular sound will be governed more strongly by the L1 phonetic category established for that sound. Therefore, for cross-language sounds bearing close phonetic similarity, the learner will experience greater difficulty in producing them in a perfectly accurate manner, or as a native speaker of that language would produce them. In light of the findings in these traditionally distinct fields of research, the present study seeks to bring them together by means of examining cognates, one class of lexical items bearing a high degree of cross-language similarity. Generally defined, cognates are words that bear a high degree of cross-language similarity on the semantic, orthographic and phonological dimensions. Since past psycholinguistic research, using reaction time (RT) as its principal indicator of cross-language activation, has shown that bilingual word iv recognition is a function of the degree to which words are similar across languages and past research on the acquisition of L2 phonology has shown that cross-language sound similarity is a detriment to ultimate accurate attainment of the L2 sound system, the present study exploits the presence of cognates in English and Spanish to examine the relation between these phenomena. The specific aim of the study is to examine how L2 learners at different stages of acquisition process cognates. The goal is to determine whether speech planning stage and phonetic realization, or speech execution, are related and whether the context of L2 learning and the level of L2 proficiency modulates this relationship. To address these issues, the present study examines RT, a traditional psycholinguistic measure of lexical processing and performance, voice onset time (VOT), a traditional measure of phonetic performance at the segmental level of production, and overall word duration from onset to offset of articulation. In addition to considering the role of level of proficiency in determining how English learners of Spanish speak Spanish words, the study also examines the learning context (language immersion versus non immersion). A major result of the study is that learners who are, by other assessments, of equal L2 proficiency perform dramatically differently in a simple task from learners who are immersed. All groups exhibit cognate facilitation in the naming task in reaction time, but the learner group differs from the other groups in both production measures: Only the learner group shows a significant cognate effect on VOT and only the learner group shows a significant cognate effect on word duration. The immersion context facilitates the inhibition of L1 phonology (as seen by the lack of a cognate effect in production). In this sense, the immersion group patterns with advanced speakers, rather than with their proficiency equivalent counterparts. Finally, the learner group VOT and duration data v support the hypothesis that cognitive processes underlying utterance planning may extend into production when planning is resource limited. L2 learners thus provide a rich testing ground for issues pertaining to modularity in language processing.
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School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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