The Cognitive Science of Language lecture series next talk is taking place on Tuesday November 14, 2:30-4:20pm, location TBD. The lecture will be delivered by Dr. Laura Colantoni. Laura Colantoni is a Professor at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese University of Toronto. She received her BA in Linguistics from the University of Buenos Aires and her PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on sound change and categorization and the second language acquisition of variable phonetic parameters. She published an edited volume on Argentine Spanish in 2013 (Perspectivas teóricas y experimentales sobre el español de la Argentina, Iberoamericana, w/C. Rodríguez Louro), and has recently published another book: Second Language speech: An Introduction (w/ P. Escudero, & J. Steele) with Cambridge University Press. In recent years, she has been working on several SSHRC and UofT supported research projects, alone and in collaboration with colleagues in French, Linguistics and Speech and Language pathology. Her most recent SSHRC-funded collaborative project (A. T. Pérez-Leroux, S. Béjar, A. Cuza, E. Johnson, N. Mazzaro, & J. Schertz) focuses on the impact of phonetic variability on the first language acquisition of grammatical properties in Spanish-English bilinguals. She is also currently collaborating with A. Kochetov and J. Steele on an electropalatographic study of assimilatory patterns in English, French and Spanish as first and second languages.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested to attend.
Title: The relative contribution of vowel realization in the acquisition of gender in Spanish-English heritage speakers
Abstract: In our project we explore whether contact-induced reduction in the inventory of unstressed vowels impacts the development of gender morphology and concord in Spanish-English bilinguals. We compare recent findings from narratives elicited from bilingual adults (N=37) and children (N=49) born in the US. Final unstressed /a e o/ were acoustically analyzed, and noun phrases were grammatically analyzed. Adult early bilinguals displayed a large degree of vocalic overlap but were highly accurate in gender. Children showed variability in their patterns of vocalic overlap and in gender accuracy ranging between 66% to 100%. Although results do not offer a strong support for the the hypothesis of a phonetic contribution to heritage gender divergence and call for refined analysis of the interaction between phonetics and morphosyntax in gender acquisition, we believe that methodological limitations prevented us from understanding to which extent different components of the grammar are impacted in this population. To achieve this goal, perceptual and processing data are needed. We conclude by discussing our current experimental design and presenting preliminary eye-tracking data collected from adult Spanish-speaking participants.
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