Production of French vowels by American-English learners of French: Language experience, consonantal context, and the perception-production relationship

Levy, Erika S.; Law II, Franzo

Second-language (L2) speech perception studies have demonstrated effects of language background and consonantal context on categorization and discrimination of vowels. The present study examined the effects of language experience and consonantal context on the production of Parisian French (PF) vowels by American English (AE) learners of French. Native AE speakers repeated PF vowels /i-y-u-œ-a/ in bilabial /bVp/ and alveolar /dVt/ contexts embedded in the phrase /raCVCa/. Three AE groups participated: speakers without French experience (NoExp), speakers with formal French experience (ModExp), and speakers with formal-plus-immersion experience (HiExp). Production accuracy was assessed by native PF listeners’ judgments and by acoustic analysis. PF listeners identified L2 learners’ productions more accurately when the learners had extensive language experience, although /y-u-œ/ by even HiExp speakers were frequently misidentified. A consonantal context effect was evident, including /u/ produced by ModExp misidentified more often in alveolar context than in bilabial, and /y/ misidentified more often in bilabial than in alveolar context, suggesting cross-language transfer of coarticulatory rules. Overall, groups distinguished front rounded /y/ from /u/ in production, but often in a non-native manner, e.g., producing /y/ as /uj/. Examination of perceptual data from the same individuals revealed a modest, yet complex, perception-production link for L2 vowels.


Also Published In

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

More About This Work

Academic Units
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Published Here
July 14, 2020


Keywords: French, English, vowels, second language, speech production, speech learning