Category restructuring during second-language speech acquisition

Academic Article


  • This study examined the production of English /b/ and the perception of short-lag English /b d g/ tokens by four groups of bilinguals who differed according to their age of arrival (AOA) in Canada from Italy and amount of self-reported native language (L1) use. A clear difference emerged between early bilinguals (mean AOA = 8 years) and late bilinguals (mean AOA = 20 years). The late bilinguals showed a stronger L1 influence than the early bilinguals did on both the production and perception of English stops. In experiment 2, the late bilinguals produced a larger percentage of prevoiced English /b/ tokens than early bilinguals and native English (NE) speakers did. In experiment 3, the late bilinguals misidentified short-lag English /b d g/ tokens as /p t k/ more often than the early bilinguals and NE speakers did. Experiment 4 revealed that the frequencies with which the bilinguals prevoiced /b d g/ in Italian and English were correlated. The observed differences between the early and late bilinguals were attributed to differences in the quantity and quality of English phonetic input they had received, not to a greater likelihood by the early than late bilinguals to establish new phonetic categories for English /b d g/. © 2001 Acoustical Society of America.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • MacKay IRA; Flege JE; Piske T; Schirru C
  • Start Page

  • 516
  • End Page

  • 528
  • Volume

  • 110
  • Issue

  • 1