You are invited to the Cognitive Science of Language lecture series organized by McMaster’s Department of Linguistics and Languages. The lecture will be delivered online by Dr. Annie Tremblay. Dr. Annie Tremblay is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Texas at El Paso. She obtained her PhD in Second Language Acquisition at the University of Hawaii in 2007. Her research investigates second-language speech perception and spoken word recognition, with focus on the processing of prosody, lexical stress, and other suprasegmental phenomena. Her most recent research, funded by the National Science Foundation, investigates whether the cue-weighting theory of speech perception can provide a strong theoretical framework for understanding the listening difficulties that second-language learners encounter with lexical stress, and for developing training stimuli and methods to enhance the perceptual learning of lexical stress. Please email email@example.com to request a link.
Title: The Scope of L1-to-L2 Cue-Weighting Transfer in Speech Perception and Spoken Word Recognition
Abstract: Listeners use a variety of acoustic cues simultaneously to perceive sound contrasts but attend to these cues as a function of their informativeness in the native (i.e., first) language (L1). Crucially, because cues are weighted differently across languages, L1 effects on the perception of second/foreign-language (L2) sound contrasts have been attributed to listeners’ transfer of cue weightings from the L1 to the L2. A critical question that arises from this research is the precise scope of L1-to-L2 cue-weighting transfer: Do cues that are functionally useful in the L1 transfer not only (i) to the perception of the same type of contrast in the L2, but also (ii) to the perception of a different type of contrast in the L2, and do cues transfer (iii) when they serve different functions in the L1 and L2?
In this presentation, I will discuss the findings of three studies that shed light on (i)-(iii). The first study provides corroborating evidence that the weighting of acoustic cues to the same type of contrast transfers from the L1 to the L2 (i) (Tremblay et al., 2021). The second study reveals that cue weightings can transfer from one type of contrast in the L1 to another type of contrast in the L2 (ii) (Kim & Tremblay, 2021). The third study indicates that cues that serve the function of signaling a lexical contrast in the L1 can transfer to the function of segmenting speech into words in the L2 (iii) (Tremblay, Broersma, & Coughlin, 2018).
These results indicate that L1-to-L2 cue weighting transfer is not limited by the type of contrast that the cues signal (ii) or by the exact function that they serve (iii) in the L1. These findings substantiate the hypothesis that listeners’ attention to acoustic cues in the L2 is determined in large part by the functional weight of the same cues in the L1 (see also Chang, 2018). These findings also highlight the need for future research to establish how cue weightings in the two sound systems interact in bilinguals who (unlike the bilinguals in the aforementioned studies) are highly proficient in both of their languages.
Chang, C. B. (2018). Perceptual attention as the locus of transfer to nonnative speech perception. Journal of Phonetics, 68, 85–102.
Kim, H., & Tremblay, A. (2021). Korean listeners’ processing of suprasegmental lexical contrasts in Korean and English: A cue-based transfer approach. Journal of Phonetics, 87.
Tremblay, A., Broersma, M., & Coughlin, C. E. (2018). The functional weight of a prosodic cue in the native language predicts the learning of speech segmentation in a second language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 21(3), 640–652.
Tremblay, A., Broersma, M., Zeng, Y., Kim, H., Lee, J., & Shin, S. (2021). Dutch listeners’ perception of English lexical stress: A cue-weighting approach. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 149, 3703–3714.
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