Perception of natural vowels by monolingual Canadian-English, Mexican-Spanish, and Peninsular-Spanish listeners

Geoffrey Stewart Morrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

On the basis of a previously-reported synthetic-vowel perception experiment, it was hypothesized that the location of the perceptual boundary between Spanish /i/ and /e/ differed for monolingual Peninsular-Spanish and Mexican-Spanish listeners (north-central Spain and Mexico City), and that this would affect the perception of the Canadian-English /i/-/i/ contrast (western Canada): Peninsular-Spanish listeners were predicted to identify almost all tokens of Canadian-English /i/ as Spanish /i/ and almost all tokens of Canadian-English /I/ as Spanish /e/ (two-category assimilation); whereas Mexican-Spanish listeners were predicted to identify almost all tokens of Canadian-English /i/ as Spanish /i/, but identify some tokens of Canadian-English /I/I as Spanish /i/ and some as Spanish /e/. Monolingual Peninsular-Spanish and Mexican-Spanish listeners' perception of natural tokens of English /i/, /I/, /e/, and /ε/ produced by monolingual Canadian-English speakers was tested. Both the Peninsular-Spanish and the Mexican-Spanish listeners had results consistent with the perceptual pattern predicted for the Peninsular-Spanish listeners. The results call into question the assumption that first-language-Spanish learners of English have difficulty learning the English /i/-/I/ contrast because they initially assimilate most tokens of both English vowel categories to a single Spanish vowel category, Spanish /i/.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Acoustics - Acoustique Canadienne
Volume40
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012 The Authors

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