Vowel Category Formation in Korean–English Bilingual Children PurposeA previous investigation (Lee & Iverson, 2012) found that English and Korean stop categories were fully distinguished by Korean–English bilingual children at 10 years of age but not at 5 years of age. The present study examined vowels produced by Korean–English bilingual children of these same ages to determine whether ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2012
Vowel Category Formation in Korean–English Bilingual Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sue Ann S. Lee
    Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock
  • Gregory K. Iverson
    University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee
  • Correspondence to Sue Ann S. Lee: sueann.lee@ttuhsc.edu
  • Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor: Anne Smith×
  • Associate Editor: Fiona Gibbon
    Associate Editor: Fiona Gibbon×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article   |   October 01, 2012
Vowel Category Formation in Korean–English Bilingual Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2012, Vol. 55, 1449-1462. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0150)
History: Received June 8, 2011 , Revised December 4, 2011 , Accepted February 23, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2012, Vol. 55, 1449-1462. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0150)
History: Received June 8, 2011; Revised December 4, 2011; Accepted February 23, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

PurposeA previous investigation (Lee & Iverson, 2012) found that English and Korean stop categories were fully distinguished by Korean–English bilingual children at 10 years of age but not at 5 years of age. The present study examined vowels produced by Korean–English bilingual children of these same ages to determine whether and when bilinguals establish distinct vowel categories across their 2 languages.

MethodBoth English and Korean vowels produced by 40 Korean–English bilingual children (5 and 10 years of age) were examined in terms of 1st formant frequency (F1) and 2nd formant frequency (F2), vowel duration, and F1 and F2 formant trajectories.

ResultsFormant frequencies of vowels produced by the bilingual children were similar to those of monolingual English and Korean children. The bilinguals distinguished vowel categories across languages using both the assimilation and dissimilation mechanisms as identified by Flege, Schirru, and MacKay (2003) .

ConclusionsVowel categories developed earlier than stops in bilingual children because vowels were typically acquired earlier than consonants. The results of this study suggest that detailed phonetic categories do not form across the board and that bilingual children may invoke multidimensional representations of phonetic categories.

Acknowledgments
This study has been supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant RHD061527A. We thank Ja Hyung Lee at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul for her help with participant recruitment. We also thank the children who participated in the study, the parents who gave their consent, and the child care centers and schools at which the data were collected. In particular, we are grateful to Ae-Young Paek at the Happy Children’s Center, Hwa-Sook Lee at the In-Wang Children’s Center, and Jung Hong at the Man-An and Ho-Sung elementary schools in Korea, as well as to the Korean Language and Culture School of Milwaukee in Wisconsin and, in Illinois, the Hasang Korean School and the Niles Korean School.
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