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Events for the
Friday, January 25, 2013
  • Exploring possible non-auditory influences on second language phonological acquisition

    Time: 01:30pm - 03:00pm 

    Place: Psychology 128 (conference room)


    Jeff Holliday

    In studying how second language (L2) learners acquire a particular L2 perceptual contrast, we typically begin our research with the observation that L2 learners have difficulty accurately perceiving the contrast. We might then take a look at how naïve listeners perceive the contrast, and then compare how novice and advanced L2 learners perceive the contrast. One assumption that underlies this methodology is the existence of some sort of perceptual continuity between naïve listeners and novice learners. That is, the starting point for L2 acquisition is the naïve listener: as L2 instruction begins, anything the naïve listener was already doing “right” should remain the same, and anything the naïve listener was doing “wrong” should eventually be corrected and gravitate towards a native benchmark. In other words, beginning to explicitly learn an L2 should not “mess things up”. By looking at data from L1 Mandarin and L1 Japanese learners of L2 Korean, I would like to examine whether L1 Mandarin listeners’ perception of Korean fricatives is constrained by metalinguistic knowledge acquired through learning to read. In this work-in-progress talk, I will give an overview of my dissertation findings, and then kick around my ideas for some experiments planned for this summer. Your feedback is most welcome.


    In category: Second language acquisition


  • Representation and acquisition of word-level prosody

    Time: 02:30pm - 04:00pm 

    Place: Ballantine Hall 215


    Öner Özçelik


    This paper investigates the representation and acquisition of word-level stress, with emphasis on English-speaking learners of Turkish. Two general proposals are made in the paper, one related to formal phonology, the other about second language (L2) acquisition of word-level prosody. The first proposes that the presence/absence of the Foot is parametric; that is, contra much previous research (see e.g. Selkirk 1995, Vogel 2009), it is argued in this paper that the Foot is not a universal constituent of the Prosodic Hierarchy; rather, some languages, such as Turkish and French, are footless. Several types of evidence are presented in support of this proposal, from both Turkish and French, with a focus on the former language. A comparison of regular (word-final) and exceptional stress in this language reveals, for example, that regular "stress" is intonational prominence falling on the last syllable of prosodic words in the absence of foot structure. Exceptional stress, on the other hand, is argued to be the result of certain morphemes coming into the computation already footed in the lexicon, and being footed on the surface, too, because of faithfulness to this information. The grammar, then, assigns the other properties of this foot, such as Binarity and Foot-Type, which are vacuously satisfied for regular morphemes, as they are not footed, and as the grammar has no mechanism that assigns feet or stress. The result is a unified analysis of regular and exceptional stress in Turkish.


    Second, the paper proposes a path for the L2 acquisition of prosody, the Prosodic Acquisition Path Hypothesis (PAPH). The PAPH predicts different levels of difficulty and paths to be followed by L2 learners based on the typological properties of their first language (L1) and the L2 they are learning, and also on the basis of a hierarchical tree representation of the relationships proposed to hold between prosodic parameters. Most foot-related parameters are incorporated in the proposal, as well as the new parameter proposed here about the presence/absence of the Foot. The PAPH predicts that once the Foot is projected in an L1, learners of a footless L2 will not be able to expunge it from their grammar, but will, instead, be restricted to changing the values of foot-related parameters. Not every one of these parameters is, however, hypothesized to be equally easy to reset; depending on a variety of factors such as their location on the parameter tree and markedness, certain parameters, such as Foot-Type, are hypothesized to be easier to reset than others, such as Iterativity.


    The predictions as concerns the learning path are tested through an experiment, which examines productions of English- and French-speaking learners of L2 Turkish. The results of the experiment largely confirm the predictions of the PAPH. None of the English-speaking learners of Turkish were able to rid their grammar of the Foot, though they were able to make various Universal Grammar (UG)-constrained changes to their grammar, such as resetting Extrametricality from Yes to No, and at later stages, Foot- Type from Trochaic to Iambic, thereby having increasingly more word types with final stress. French-speaking learners, on the other hand, produced target-like footless outputs, with word-final prominence, from the initial stages of acquisition. At no stage did any of the learners have UG-unconstrained representations such as weight-insensitive iambs, which are not permitted by the inventory of feet provided by UG.



    In category: Second language acquisition


  • Development, variation and transfer in child L2 phonology

    Time: 03:30pm - 05:00pm 

    Place: Ballantine Hall 245


    Anne-Michelle Tessier (University of Alberta)

    This talk is about the nature of early child L2 phonology acquisition: specifically focused on children ages 5-7 years old who have less than a year's exposure to their second language. What is the nature of early L2 phonological grammars, including their overall accuracy and error patterns, and their progression towards L2 mastery? How similar is child L2 development to both child L1 and adult L2 learning, and how can we capture these similarities or differences? In this talk, I discuss the early L2 English phonology of 10 children from L1 Chinese and Hindi/Panjabi backgrounds. I illustrate ways in which their phonologies are hybrids of both child L1 English and adult L2 English, and I demonstrate how the 'Dual Route' learner of Becker and Tessier (2011) can simulate development that accords with these child L2 learners. I also will describe current research in progress, which will use early L2 data to tease apart competing explanations — grammatical, perceptual and lexical — for error patterns in child speech.


    In category: Child language acquisition


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