A one-year longitudinal study of English and Japanese vowel production by Japanese adults and children in an English-speaking setting

Academic Article


  • The effect of age of acquisition on first- and second-language vowel production was investigated. Eight English vowels were produced by Native Japanese (NJ) adults and children as well as by age-matched Native English (NE) adults and children. Productions were recorded shortly after the NJ participants' arrival in the USA and then one year later. In agreement with previous investigations [. Aoyama, Flege, Guion, Akahane-Yamada, & Yamada (2004). Journal of Phonetics, 32, 233-250], children were able to learn faster, leading to higher accuracy than adults in a year's time. Based on the spectral quality and duration comparisons, NJ adults had more accurate production at Time 1 but showed no improvement over time. The NJ children's productions, however, showed significant differences from the NE children's for English "new" vowels /I/, /ε/, /a/, /Λ/ and /υ/ at Time 1 but produced all eight vowels in a native-like manner at Time 2. An examination of NJ speakers' productions of Japanese /i/, /a/, /u/ over time revealed significant changes for the NJ Child Group only. Japanese /i/ and /a/ showed changes in production that can be related to second language (L2) learning. The results suggest that L2 vowel production is affected importantly by age of acquisition and that there is a dynamic interaction, whereby the first and second language vowels affect each other. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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    Author List

  • Oh GE; Guion-Anderson S; Aoyama K; Flege JE; Akahane-Yamada R; Yamada T
  • Start Page

  • 156
  • End Page

  • 167
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 2