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David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21ST STREET STOP B7600, HRH 2.114A, AUSTIN, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

Early Spanish-Catalan bilinguals' ability to acquire L2 vowel contrasts

Tue, May 1, 2012 • 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM • HRH 2.118 (Lounge)


Presented by Mark Amengual


The present study examines the perception of the Catalan mid-front (/e/, /ɛ/) and midback(/o/, /ɔ/) vowel contrasts by highly proficient early Spanish-Catalan bilinguals in Majorca (Spain). Twenty-two Spanish-Catalan bilinguals completed an identification and AX discrimination task for each mid-vowel contrast. The results from these experiments differ from previous perception studies in Barcelona, suggesting that both Spanishdominant and Catalan-dominant bilinguals in Majorca are able to discriminate the front and back mid-vowel contrasts. The bilinguals in Majorca maintain two independent phonetic categories in the mid-vowel space for Catalan and as a result perceive both phonetic categories despite the overlap of one phonetic category with a category in Spanish. Importantly, the results of this study depart from previous studies in Barcelona in that Spanish-dominant bilinguals are not “deaf” to the Catalan-specific vowel contrast.

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