The perception of second language sounds in early bilinguals: new evidence from an implicit measure

TitleThe perception of second language sounds in early bilinguals: new evidence from an implicit measure
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsNavarra J, Sebastián-Gallés N, Soto-Faraco S
JournalJournal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance
Volume31
Pagination912
Date Published10/2005
ISSN0096-1523
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, Attention, Child, Discrimination Learning, Female, Humans, Language Development, Male, Multilingualism, Phonetics, Preschool, Psychoacoustics, Reaction Time, Spain
Abstract

Previous studies have suggested that nonnative (L2) linguistic sounds are accommodated to native language (L1) phonemic categories. However, this conclusion may be compromised by the use of explicit discrimination tests. The present study provides an implicit measure of L2 phoneme discrimination in early bilinguals (Catalan and Spanish). Participants classified the 1st syllable of disyllabic stimuli embedded in lists where the 2nd, task-irrelevant, syllable could contain a Catalan contrastive variation (/epsilon/-/e/) or no variation. Catalan dominants responded more slowly in lists where the 2nd syllable could vary from trial to trial, suggesting an indirect effect of the /epsilon/-/e/ discrimination. Spanish dominants did not suffer this interference, performing indistinguishably from Spanish monolinguals. The present findings provide implicit evidence that even proficient bilinguals categorize L2 sounds according to their L1 representations.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0096-1523.31.5.912
DOI10.1037/0096-1523.31.5.912