Galician-Spanish mid vowel production in Southern Galicia: using language mode to explore bilingual speakers’ underlying phonological categories.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This study analyses the production of the Galician close/open mid vowel contrasts /e- ɛ/ and /o- ɔ/, and the Spanish mid vowels /e/ and /o/ by 25 highly proficient Galician-Spanish bilinguals in the city of Vigo (Galicia, Spain) in order to investigate the impact of language switching on these vowels. While the Galician mid vowels have been studied in non-switched and code-switched paradigms, underlying phonetic interaction may have been partially obscured by connected speech effects such as speech planning and pragmatics. The present study made use of a cued picture-naming task, with bilinguals naming pictures in Galician and Spanish. Stimuli were presented in three contexts (language modes), with two separate monolingual modes –Galician only stimuli and Spanish only stimuli–, and one bilingual mode, mixing both Galician and Spanish stimuli. The tasks aimed to test whether transient effects from cross-linguistic interference would alter the phonological categorisation of the vowels when produced in the code-switched bilingual language mode as compared to the monolingual language mode. Bilinguals formed two groups according to language dominance patterns –Galician-dominant and Spanish-dominant. Results showed no significant transient effects as a consequence of language-switching. Interestingly, none of the groups made the Galician mid vowel contrasts for either the /e- ɛ/ mid vowel pair or the /o- ɔ/ mid vowel pair in either of the language mode conditions. These results have been explained by reference to a possible cross-linguistic vowel neutralisation process being on course as a consequence of long-term language contact between the two languages. Specific reference is made to variable bilingual experience as connected to multiple internal and external psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic variables, including age of acquisition, the quality and quantity of the linguistic input, habitual language use, accent, language substrate effects, and social indexicality, with a comment on the usefulness of sociophonetic models of lateral transfer to frame bilingual speech research.
B.Sc.(Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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