ERIC Number: ED458823
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Feb
Language Experience and the Representation of Phonology in an Unknown Language.
Marks, Emilia Alonso; Bond, Z. S.; Stockmal, Verna
Adult listeners have the ability to identify spoken samples of a language that they do not know and to discriminate among languages. In order to accomplish these tasks, listeners attend to rhythm, pitch excursions, and segmental properties of language samples. That is, they create simple representations of phonology. This study examined the effects of previous experience with languages on the ability to arrive at simple phonological representations. Three groups of American college student listeners participated in the study: 17 in their third year of Spanish study (a phonetically similar language to the target Japanese), 20 monolinguals without any significant experience studying foreign languages, and 17 in their third year of German study (a phonetically distant language from the target Japanese). All listeners were tested the same way. First, they watched a brief Japanese cartoon. Then, they heard a test recording containing samples of five foreign languages. For each sample, the listeners had to decide whether the language was Japanese or not. In general, the three groups performed differently on the task. The monolingual students had the most difficulty separating Japanese from the other four languages. The German-studying students had the least difficulty. Although none of the listeners had specific experience with Japanese, they approached the task of representing novel phonology in ways that may have been influenced by their experiences with sound patterns of other languages. (Contains 15 references.) (Author/KFT)
Descriptors: Applied Linguistics, Cartoons, Chinese, College Students, German, Higher Education, Indonesian, Japanese, Language Aptitude, Language Tests, Listening Skills, Phonetics, Phonology, Prior Learning, Russian, Second Language Instruction, Second Language Learning, Spanish, Uncommonly Taught Languages
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (St. Louis, MO, February 24-27, 2001).