Directional Asymmetries in Vowel Perception of Adult Nonnative Listeners Do Not Change Over Time With Language Experience Purpose This study tested an assumption of the Natural Referent Vowel (Polka & Bohn, 2011) framework, namely, that directional asymmetries in adult vowel perception can be influenced by language experience. Method Data from participants reported in Escudero and Williams (2014)  were analyzed. Spanish participants categorized the Dutch vowels ... Research Note
Research Note  |   April 14, 2017
Directional Asymmetries in Vowel Perception of Adult Nonnative Listeners Do Not Change Over Time With Language Experience
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Buddhamas Pralle Kriengwatana
    Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Paola Escudero
    The MARCS Institute and ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, Western Sydney University, Australia
  • 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 Buddhamas Pralle Kriengwatana who is now at the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom: bkrieng@alumni.uwo.ca
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers
    Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Notes
Research Note   |   April 14, 2017
Directional Asymmetries in Vowel Perception of Adult Nonnative Listeners Do Not Change Over Time With Language Experience
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 1088-1093. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-16-0050
History: Received February 5, 2016 , Revised May 20, 2016 , Accepted August 25, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 1088-1093. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-16-0050
History: Received February 5, 2016; Revised May 20, 2016; Accepted August 25, 2016

Purpose This study tested an assumption of the Natural Referent Vowel (Polka & Bohn, 2011) framework, namely, that directional asymmetries in adult vowel perception can be influenced by language experience.

Method Data from participants reported in Escudero and Williams (2014)  were analyzed. Spanish participants categorized the Dutch vowels /aː/ and /ɑ/ in 2 separate sessions: before and after vowel distributional training. Sessions were 12 months apart. Categorization was assessed using the XAB task, where on each trial participants heard 3 sounds sequentially (first X, then A, then B) and had to decide whether X was more similar to A or B.

Results Before training, participants exhibited a directional asymmetry in line with the prediction of Natural Referent Vowel. Specifically, Spanish listeners performed worse when the vowel change from X to A was a change from peripheral to central vowel (/ɑ/ to /aː/). However, this asymmetry was maintained 12 months later, even though distributional training improved vowel categorization performance.

Conclusions Improvements in adult nonnative vowel categorization accuracy are not explained by attenuation of directional asymmetries. Directional asymmetries in vowel perception are altered during native language acquisition, but may possibly be impervious to nonnative language experiences in adulthood.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Australian Research Council Grant DP130102181 (awarded to Paola Escudero). Collaboration between authors was facilitated by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (Project Number CE140100041) where Paola Escudero is chief investigator. We thank Dirk Jan Vet for help with writing Praat scripts to extract data, and Vera van der Steen for running the scripts and extracting data.
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