Comparing High Vowel Perception in Spanish Monolinguals, English Monolinguals and Spanish-English Bilinguals
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractRecent acoustic descriptions have shown that vowels across languages have different acoustic properties. The main acoustic difference between the high vowels /i/ and /u/ lies on their respective second formant (F2) values, and the perception and production of these vowels is fairly different for speakers of English and Spanish. In particular, /u/ is closer to /i/ in English than it is in Spanish. The present study investigates whether proficient Spanish-English bilinguals categorize the /i/ and /u/ differently depending on the language context in which the vowel phonemes are presented. Their results were compared to those of English and Spanish monolinguals. I observed how the three groups of participants responded to the same set of sounds, which contained vowel tokens ranging from /i/ to /u/. I looked for the step in the continuum in which the participants ceased to listen the vowel /i/ and started hearing /u/. The bilingual and monolingual participants in this study did not show a significant difference in this regard. However, a further analysis focusing on the monolingual participants of this study and the monolingual participants of a previous study suggests that there exists a perception-production asymmetry of the vowels /i/ and /u/.
Degree ProgramHonors College