Wednesday Seminar: Where is more benefit? Influence of multi speaker variability for learning novel consonants, vowels and pitch-accents

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Learning a second language involves learning a new sound system. Depending on the native language, some speech sounds might be easier to learn to distinguish, while others might more difficult. Most of the studies primarily focused on how learners acquired new words based on segmental properties (consonants and vowels) of the languages. However, for a variety of language learning new consonant and vowel categories are not enough; the use of pitch differences and tones is essential for distinguishing between different words. Learning novel words and phonological categories can be enhanced by presenting a variation and variability in the linguistic input. In this presentation, I will present first ideas about a learning experiment with Norwegian speech sounds, involving consonantal differences (/t/ vs. /ʈ/), vocalic differences (/y/ vs. /ʉ/), length differences (short vs. long vowels) and different pitch accents (East Norwegian Tone 1 vs. Tone 2). Beside testing adults’ perceptual sensitivity to these non-native contrasts, I would add two different conditions: one single speaker and one multispeaker condition to investigate the possible benefit of this additional variability and if at all they equally benefit across all the different non-native speech contrasts. Since this is work in progress, I would be very grateful for suggestions, and recommendations.


Antonia Götz is a PhD student from the University of Potsdam, Germany, in the research unit Crossing the Borders: The interplay of language, cognition, and the brain in early human development. In her PhD, she focuses on the perceptual reorganization process of German-learning infants, more precisely how infants’ perceptual sensitivity to lexical tones, and vowels develops with increasing age. Götz is visiting MultiLing in the fall semester of 2019.


Yesim Sevinc
Published Oct. 14, 2019 11:24 AM - Last modified Oct. 15, 2019 3:57 PM