Dr Camilla Horslund (UvA), postdoctoral researcher at the ACLC, is the guest speaker at this ACLC seminar. The title of her talk is '(How) does the Dutch contrast between "toppen" and "tobben" prepare native Dutch speakers for learning the English contrast between "cap" and "cab"? The relative weight of acoustic cues to the English final voicing contrast in L1 Dutch and L1 Danish learners.'
(How) does the Dutch contrast between toppen and tobben prepare native Dutch speakers for learning the English contrast between cap and cab? The relative weight of acoustic cues to the English final voicing contrast in L1 Dutch and L1 Danish learners.
The English final voicing contrast (the difference between cap and cab) poses a notorious problem for second language learners. Prior research suggests that Dutch learners of English are well equipped to learn this contrast due to their experience with the Dutch medial voicing contrast (the difference between toppen and tobben), which is signaled by means of some of the same acoustic cues as the final English contrast. A central aim of my postdoc project was to tests if Dutch learners of English do indeed exhibit an advantage in their perception of the final English voicing contrast when compared to Danish learners, who are comparable English language proficiency, but who do not have native language exposure to the relevant acoustic cues, as Danish has neither a final nor a medial voicing contrast.
The project also aimed to get a better understanding of the nature of this Dutch advantage by comparing the cue weightings in Dutch and Danish learners to that of native English listeners. Two acoustic cues are examined: the consonant-vowel-duration ratio and the amount of phonetic voicing (vocal fold vibration) in the consonant. Consonant-vowel-duration ratio and phonetic voicing have been found to be the strongest cues to phonological voicing, with consonant-vowel duration ratio being a relatively stronger cue in fricatives and phonetic voicing being a relatively stronger cue in plosives.
In this talk I will present the results of a perception experiment on natural tokens and manipulated tokens. The perceptual patterns for the natural tokens can reveal whether there is indeed a Dutch advantage in the perception of the English final voicing contrast, and the perceptual patterns for the manipulated tokens can describe the nature of such an advantage through the differences in cue-weighting between the two learner groups vis-à-vis the English native listeners.
The ACLC seminar series is a two weekly lecture series organized by the ACLC, research school for linguistics of the Faculty of Humanities.