First Language Attrition in the Speech of Dutch-English Bilinguals; The Case of Monozygotic Twins
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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In consecutive bilingualism there is often evidence of transfer from the speaker's first language (L1) into their second language (L2), and the effect of the L1 on the language learner‟s L2 accent is a phenomenon which is broadly documented in the literature (e.g. Flege, 1995). A more recent research focus however, is what happens in the opposite direction; the effect that L2 speech acquisition has on pronunciation of the native language, resulting in native language changes termed as L1 attrition (e.g. de Leeuw, Schmid & Mennen, 2010). The present study seeks to add to the recent literature on L1 attrition, by investigating the unique situation of bilingual Dutch-English monozygotic adult twin sisters. Specifically, MZ and TZ, age 62, grew up in the Netherlands with L1 native Dutch and L2 English learnt in education. They have differed in linguistic experience over the last 30 years, when MZ moved to the UK, while TZ remained in the Netherlands. Using this unique control setting, the aim of the present study was to investigate the potential occurrence of L1 attrition in the speech of MZ, and to look explore any interactions between the L1 and L2. This was achieved by examining the twins‟ Dutch and English pronunciation, through the acoustic analysis of voice onset time (VOT) and vowels in both languages. The results for both areas reveal interesting differences between the twins, ultimately suggesting the presence of L1 attrition in the speech of the emigrated twin, due to the effect of increased L2 contact on the pronunciation of the L1, and the interaction between Dutch and English. The findings are discussed in relation to the interaction of phonological systems in bilinguals and explanatory models in second language speech acquisition.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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