Limits on phonetic accuracy in foreign language speech production

Academic Article


  • This study examined the French syllables /tu/ (“tous”) and /ty/ (“tu”) produced in three speaking tasks by native speakers of American English and French talkers living in the U.S. In a paired-comparison task listeners correctly identified more of the vowels produced by French than American talkers, and more vowels produced by experienced than inexperienced American speakers of French. An acoustic analysis revealed that the American talkers produced /u/ with significantly higher F 2 values than the French talkers, but produced /y/ with F2 values equal to those of the French talkers. A labeling task revealed that the /y/ vowels produced by the experienced and inexperienced Americans were identified equally well, but that the experienced Americans produced a more identifiable /u/ than the inexperienced Americans. It is hypothesized that English speakers learn French /y/ rapidly because this vowel is not—like French /u/—judged to be equivalent to a vowel of English. The French and American talkers produced /t/ with equal VOT values of about 55 ms, which is intermediate to values commonly observed for monolingual speakers of French and English. It is hypothesized that the bilingual talkers judged the /t/ of French and English to be equivalent, which affected their perceptual target for French /t/ and ultimately their production of this stop. © 1984, Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Flege JE
  • Start Page

  • 708
  • End Page

  • 721
  • Volume

  • 76
  • Issue

  • 3