L2 effects on the perception and production of a native vowel contrast in early bilinguals

Joan C. Mora, Marianna Nadeu

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53 Scopus citations


This study investigates the effect of L2 (Spanish) use on Catalan-Spanish bilinguals' ability to accurately perceive and produce two contrastive native Catalan vowel categories, /e/ and /ε/. Participants were L1 Catalan highly proficient Catalan-Spanish bilinguals differing in amount of daily exposure/use of Catalan (low: 40%-70% vs. high: 80%-100%). Perceptual accuracy was assessed through speeded categorization and AXB discrimination tasks based on a 10-step vowel continuum (/e/-/ε/). Production accuracy was assessed by eliciting /ε/ tokens in Catalan cognate and noncognate words. The results indicated that participants using Spanish more frequently discriminated Catalan vowels /e/ and /ε/ less accurately and significantly more slowly and had a more Spanish-like acoustic target in the production of Catalan /ε/, particularly in cognate words. These results are consistent with the view that, in a language contact context, extensive L2 experience affects L1 sound categories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-500
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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