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Cross-language perceptual assimilation of French and German front rounded vowels by novice American listeners and advanced American language learners of French and German. Gabriella Ruiz LING 620 Ohio University. Research Area. Phonology - Cross-Linguistic Influence

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gabriella ruiz ling 620 ohio university

Cross-language perceptual assimilation of French and German front rounded vowels by novice American listeners and advanced American language learners of French and German

Gabriella Ruiz

LING 620

Ohio University

research area
Research Area


- Cross-Linguistic Influence

- Psycholinguistics

aim justification

Several Studies have investigated the role of L1 phonological influence over L2 speech sound correspondences in L2 learning

Support that gained experience in a language alters the perception of speech sounds in that language.

Only within the last year have a few studies investigated the role of L2 phonological influence over L3 speech perception, mainly by default.


Flege, J. E. (1987). The production of "new" and "similar" phones in a foreign

language:evidencefor the effect of equivalence classification. Journal of phonetics , 47-65. 

Ingram,J. C.L.,& Park, S. ( 1997). Cross-Language vowel perception and production

by Japanese and Korean learners of English. Journal of Phonetic, 25, 343-370.

Levy, E.S., & Strange, W. (2008). Perception of French Vowels by American English

adults with and without French language experience. Journal of Phonetics, 36,


Trofimovich, P., Gatbonton, E., & Segalowitz, N. (2007) A Dynamic Look AtL2

Phonological Learning: Seeking Processing Explanations for Implicational

Phenomena. Studies in Second language Acquisition, 407-448.

Strange, W., Levy, E.S., Law II, F.F. (2009). Cross-language categorization of French

and German vowels by naïve American listeners. Acoustical Society of America,

126, (1461-1467).

research questions
Research Questions
  • Do L1 listeners realize featured phones between two non-native languages as being the same phoneme?
  • Does gained experience in the language affect the participant’s phonological perception of the TL(s)?
  • Do advanced learners of German and French assimilate rounded vowels the same way?


30-60 participants

Naïve/novice participants do not need to be enrolled at Ohio University

Advanced language participants are Ss of 300 level French and German classes.

- All participant are native speakers of American English.

materials instruments

Sound files of German and French high/mid front rounded and unrounded vowels, generated by generic voice synthesizer.

Cloze builder to test proficiency levels (Trofimovich & Gatbonton, 2007)

Ohio University Computer Lab (computer & headphones; projector & screen)

Microsoft PowerPoint

Print out of “saving” instructions.

Slips of paper with #’s, set by computer.

target sounds
Target sounds
  • /i, y, y:,Y,/

Sound correspondence sounds

  • /i, ɪ , u, ʊ, ə/


/ h _ b ə/ /t _ b ə/  /#V#/ /CV/ /CVC/



1.) Cloze builder assessment (tentative)

2.) Training

3.) Tasks: a.) isolated sounds (randomized)

b.) monosyllabic non-words (randomized)

c.) same/different (randomized)

* 4.) Save tests to desktop

(Tell me what you think for tasks 1 & 2)


Data & Analysis

mean proficiency levels of TLs for each group will be determined.

Responses will be scored as the number of times respondents from each independent group choose the American English vowel for each task item. For group analysis, an overall categorization distributions (60 participants x 45 trials=2700 responses/vowel).

The consistency of item choice for each category will be represented as a percentage of the total trial. A median response item will be determined for those groups that chose an alternative item(s). To account for individual responses, each participant’s American vowel selection for the German or French vowels will be tallied.


Data & Analysis Continued

ANOVA will be used initially to find a mean score for the naïve/novice American English participant responses, and the mean total of same responses for the advanced language learners

final analysis will employ a statistical regression analysis.

multiple linear regression model

anticipated problems limitations
Anticipated Problems & limitations

Technology mishaps (wav. files vs. Bit files)

Accessibility to participants

Sample size

Cloze builder

expected findings
Expected Findings

participants in the advanced German and French groups will assimilate the French and German vowels in the same way

expect many respondents from both groups making opposite responses for /y, Y/ vowels; that is where the German/Y/ vowel occurs, the AE advanced German language learners will respond the same AE vowel as they do for the French /y/

AE advanced French language learners, I expect these participants to respond the same for both /y:/ and /Y/ vowels.

naïve/novice L1 AE participants, I expect assimilation responses to be different from advanced language learners of target languages