Proficiency and Linguistic Complexity Influence Speech Motor Control and Performance in Spanish Language Learners Purpose Second-language (L2) production requires greater cognitive resources to inhibit the native language and to retrieve less robust lexical representations. The current investigation identifies how proficiency and linguistic complexity, specifically syntactic and lexical factors, influence speech motor control and performance. Method Speech movements of 29 native English speakers ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2015
Proficiency and Linguistic Complexity Influence Speech Motor Control and Performance in Spanish Language Learners
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ignatius S. B. Nip
    San Diego State University, CA
  • Henrike K. Blumenfeld
    San Diego State University, CA
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Ignatius S. B. Nip: inip@mail.sdsu.edu
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Kate Bunton
    Associate Editor: Kate Bunton×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2015
Proficiency and Linguistic Complexity Influence Speech Motor Control and Performance in Spanish Language Learners
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 653-668. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-13-0299
History: Received November 1, 2013 , Revised May 27, 2014 , Accepted February 12, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 653-668. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-13-0299
History: Received November 1, 2013; Revised May 27, 2014; Accepted February 12, 2015
Web of Science® Times Cited: 6

Purpose Second-language (L2) production requires greater cognitive resources to inhibit the native language and to retrieve less robust lexical representations. The current investigation identifies how proficiency and linguistic complexity, specifically syntactic and lexical factors, influence speech motor control and performance.

Method Speech movements of 29 native English speakers with low or high proficiency in Spanish were recorded while producing simple and syntactically complex sentences in English and Spanish. Sentences were loaded with cognate (e.g., baby–bebé) or noncognate (e.g., dog–perro) words. Effects of proficiency, lexicality (cognate vs. noncognate), and syntactic complexity on maximum speed, range of movement, duration, and speech movement variability were examined.

Results In general, speakers with lower L2 proficiency differed in their speech motor control and performance from speakers with higher L2 proficiency. Speakers with higher L2 proficiency generally had less speech movement variability, shorter phrase durations, greater maximum speeds, and greater ranges of movement. In addition, lexicality and syntactic complexity affected speech motor control and performance.

Conclusions L2 proficiency, lexicality, and syntactic complexity influence speech motor control and performance in adult L2 learners. Information about relationships between speech motor control, language proficiency, and cognitive–linguistic demands may be used to assess and treat bilingual clients and language learners.

Acknowledgments
This study was funded by a Language Learning Grants Program grant to Ignatius S. B. Nip and Henrike K. Blumenfeld. We thank Ashley Adams, Brandon Brewer, Anne Coleman, Erica Greenberg, Erin Henderson, Lucia Kearney, Stefanie Opdycke, Michelle Ortega, Frances Ramos, Casey Rockmore, Grace Sitton, Carina Valdivieso, Jennifer Chiu, Serena Pereira, Diana Garcia, Eribel Lupercio, Heather Back, Arlene Aguilar, Amy Tellez, Nancy Mariscal, Erika Lamb, and Cindy Mutimer for their assistance with data collection and coding.
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