Speech Segmentation by Native and Non-Native Speakers The Use of Lexical, Syntactic, and Stress-Pattern Cues Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2002
Speech Segmentation by Native and Non-Native Speakers
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lisa D. Sanders, PhD
    University of Oregon Eugene
  • Helen J. Neville
    University of Oregon Eugene
  • Marty G. Woldorff
    Duke University Chapel Hill, NC
  • Contact author: Lisa D. Sanders, PhD, Linguistics Department, University of Maryland, 1401 Marie Mount Hall, College Park, MD 20742-7505.
    Contact author: Lisa D. Sanders, PhD, Linguistics Department, University of Maryland, 1401 Marie Mount Hall, College Park, MD 20742-7505.×
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: lsanders@wam.umd.edu
  • * Currently affiliated with the University of Maryland, College Park
    Currently affiliated with the University of Maryland, College Park×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2002
Speech Segmentation by Native and Non-Native Speakers
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2002, Vol. 45, 519-530. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/041)
History: Received August 16, 2001 , Accepted January 28, 2002
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2002, Vol. 45, 519-530. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/041)
History: Received August 16, 2001; Accepted January 28, 2002
Web of Science® Times Cited: 28

Varying degrees of plasticity in different subsystems of language have been demonstrated by studies showing that some aspects of language are processed similarly by native speakers and late-learners whereas other aspects are processed differently by the two groups. The study of speech segmentation provides a means by which the ability to process different types of linguistic information can be measured within the same task, because lexical, syntactic, and stress-pattern information can all indicate where one word ends and the next begins in continuous speech. In this study, native Japanese and native Spanish late-learners of English (as well as near-monolingual Japanese and Spanish speakers) were asked to determine whether specific sounds fell at the beginning or in the middle of words in English sentences. Similar to native English speakers, late-learners employed lexical information to perform the segmentation task. However, nonnative speakers did not use syntactic information to the same extent as native English speakers. Although both groups of late-learners of English used stress pattern as a segmentation cue, the extent to which this cue was relied upon depended on the stress-pattern characteristics of their native language. These findings support the hypothesis that learning a second language later in life has differential effects on subsystems within language.

Acknowledgments
This research was presented in part as a poster entitled “Speech segmentation by bilingual speakers” at the 1998 annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (San Francisco). The research was supported by NIH, NIDCD grant DC000128. The authors wish to thank Wayne O’Neil and Yokio Otsu for help in collecting data in Japan and Donna Coch for comments on the manuscript.
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