Spectral Dynamics in L1 and L2 Vowel Perception
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This paper presents a study of L1 and L2 vowel perception by Polish learners of English. Employing the Silent Center paradigm (e.g. Strange et al. 1983), by which listeners are presented with different portions of a vowel, a force choice identification task was carried out. Due to differences in the vowel systems of the two languages, it was hypothesized that stimulus type should have minimal effects for L1 Polish vowel perception since Polish vowels are relatively stable in quality. In L2 English, depending on proficiency level, listeners were expected to adopt a more dynamic approach to vowel identification and show higher accuracy rates on the SC tokens. That is, listeners were expected to attend more to dynamic formant cues, or vowel inherent spectral change (VISC; see e.g. Morrison and Assmann 2013) in vowel perception. Results for identification accuracy for the most part were consistent with these hypotheses. Implications of VISC for the notion of cross-language phonetic similarity, crucial to models of L2 speech acquisition, are also discussed.