ISCA Archive PSP 2005
ISCA Archive PSP 2005

Speech-sound duration processing in a second language is specific to phonetic categories

Sari Nenonen, Anna Shestakova, Minna Huotilainen, Risto Näätänen

Mismatch negativity (MMN) is a component of the auditory event-related potential (ERP) that reflects pre-attentive and automatic detection of acoustic changes in repetitive sound features (see Näätänen, 2001, for a review). In several studies, the MMN has been used as an index of duration-discrimination sensitivity in the brain. In the present crosslinguistic study, we used the MMN to determine the effect of native language, Russian, on the processing of speech-sound duration in a second language (L2), Finnish, that uses duration as a cue for phonological distinction. Based on the hypotheses of Flegeís (1995) Speech Learning Model (SLM), the nativelanguage effect was compared with Finnish vowels that either can or cannot be categorized using the Russian phonological system (ìsimilarî and ìnewî sounds in the SLM, respectively). The results showed that in Russian L2 users of Finnish, the durationchange MMN for the Finnish sounds that could be categorized through Russian was reduced in comparison with that for the Finnish sounds having no Russian equivalent. For the Finnish sounds that have no Russian equivalent, new vowel categories independent of the native Russian language have apparently been established, enabling a native-like attuning of duration processing. However, in the sounds that can be mapped through the Russian phonological system, plastic changes facilitating the duration processing may be inhibited by the native Russian language.

s Näätänen, R. (2001). The perception of speech sounds by the human brain as reflected by the mismatch negativity (MMN) and its magnetic equivalent (MMNm). Psychophysiology, 8, 1-21. Flege, J.E. (1995). Second language speech learning. Theory, Findings, and problems. In W. Strange (Ed.), Speech perception and linguistic experience. Issues in cross-language research (pp. 233-277). Timonium, MD: York press.

Cite as: Nenonen, S., Shestakova, A., Huotilainen, M., Näätänen, R. (2005) Speech-sound duration processing in a second language is specific to phonetic categories. Proc. ISCA Workshop on Plasticity in Speech Perception (PSP 2005), 133 (abstract)

  author={Sari Nenonen and Anna Shestakova and Minna Huotilainen and Risto Näätänen},
  title={{Speech-sound duration processing in a second language is specific to phonetic categories}},
  booktitle={Proc. ISCA Workshop on Plasticity in Speech Perception (PSP 2005)},
  pages={133 (abstract)}