Effects of age of learning on voice onset time: categorical perception of Swedish stops by near-native L2 speakers
2014 (English)In: Language and Speech, ISSN 0023-8309, E-ISSN 1756-6053, Vol. 57, no 2, 425-450 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
This study examined the effects of age of onset (AO) of L2 acquisition on the categorical perception of the voicing contrast in Swedish word-initial stops varying in voice onset time (VOT). Three voicing continua created on the basis of natural Swedish word pairs with /p-b/, /t-d/, /k-/ in initial position were presented to 41 Spanish early (AO < 12) and late (AO > 12) near-native speakers of L2 Swedish. Fifteen native speakers of Swedish served as controls. Categorizations were influenced by AO and listener status as L1/L2 speaker, in that the late learners deviated the most from native-speaker perception. In addition, only a small minority of the late learners perceived the voicing contrast in a way comparable to native-speaker categorization, while most early L2 learners demonstrated nativelike categorization patterns. However, when the results were combined with the L2 learners’ production of Swedish voiceless stops (Stölten, 2005; Stölten, Abrahamsson & Hyltenstam, in press), nativelike production and perception was never found among the late learners, while a majority of the early learners still exhibited nativelike production and perception. It is concluded that, despite their being perceived as mother-tongue speakers of Swedish by native listeners, the late learners do not, after detailed phonetic scrutiny, exhibit a fully nativelike command of Swedish VOT. Consequently, being near-native rather than nativelike speakers of their second language, these individuals do not constitute the evidence necessary to reject the hypothesis of one or several critical (or sensitive) periods for language acquisition.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 57, no 2, 425-450 p.
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject Bilingualism
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-109732DOI: 10.1177/0023830913508760ISI: 000345304600001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-109732DiVA: diva2:767048