Physiological Indices of Bilingualism: Oral–Motor Coordination and Speech Rate in Bengali–English Speakers Purpose To examine how age of immersion and proficiency in a 2nd language influence speech movement variability and speaking rate in both a 1st language and a 2nd language. Method A group of 21 Bengali–English bilingual speakers participated. Lip and jaw movements were recorded. For all 21 speakers, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2008
Physiological Indices of Bilingualism: Oral–Motor Coordination and Speech Rate in Bengali–English Speakers
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rahul Chakraborty
    Purdue University
  • Lisa Goffman
    Purdue University
  • Anne Smith
    Purdue University
  • Contact author: Rahul Chakraborty, who is now at the Department of Communication Disorders, Texas State University–San Marcos, 601 University Drive, Room 169, San Marcos, TX 78666. E-mail: rc39@txstate.edu.
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2008
Physiological Indices of Bilingualism: Oral–Motor Coordination and Speech Rate in Bengali–English Speakers
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2008, Vol. 51, 321-332. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/024)
History: Received August 23, 2006 , Accepted August 2, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2008, Vol. 51, 321-332. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/024)
History: Received August 23, 2006; Accepted August 2, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 12

Purpose To examine how age of immersion and proficiency in a 2nd language influence speech movement variability and speaking rate in both a 1st language and a 2nd language.

Method A group of 21 Bengali–English bilingual speakers participated. Lip and jaw movements were recorded. For all 21 speakers, lip movement variability was assessed based on productions of Bengali (L1; 1st language) and English (L2; 2nd language) sentences. For analyses related to the influence of L2 proficiency on speech production processes, participants were sorted into low- (n = 7) and high-proficiency (n = 7) groups. Lip movement variability and speech rate were evaluated for both of these groups across L1 and L2 sentences.

Results Surprisingly, adult bilingual speakers produced equally consistent speech movement patterns in their production of L1 and L2. When groups were sorted according to proficiency, highly proficient speakers were marginally more variable in their L1. In addition, there were some phoneme-specific effects, most markedly that segments not shared by both languages were treated differently in production. Consistent with previous studies, movement durations were longer for less proficient speakers in both L1 and L2.

Interpretation In contrast to those of child learners, the speech motor systems of adult L2 speakers show a high degree of consistency. Such lack of variability presumably contributes to protracted difficulties with acquiring nativelike pronunciation in L2. The proficiency results suggest bidirectional interactions across L1 and L2, which is consistent with hypotheses regarding interference and the sharing of phonological space. A slower speech rate in less proficient speakers implies that there are increased task demands on speech production processes.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant DC04826. We are grateful to Janna Berlin, Laurence Leonard, Christine Weber-Fox, and Howard Zelaznik for invaluable assistance with many phases of this work.
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