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Language and Mind, Week 10

by: Carole Boulware

Language and Mind, Week 10 LING 275

Carole Boulware
GPA 3.3

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Language and Mind, Week 10
Language and Mind
Elsi Miia Kaiser, Rachel Walker
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carole Boulware on Wednesday July 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to LING 275 at University of Southern California taught by Elsi Miia Kaiser, Rachel Walker in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see Language and Mind in Linguistics at University of Southern California.


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Date Created: 07/20/16
Language and Mind, Ling 275g Spring 2016, Kaiser/Walker Overview of lecture on April 7: Categories in Sound Change Speaking a Second Language Vowels in the history of English • Middle English: 1100-1500 o Exemplified in the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer • Modern English: Since about 1500 • Major changes took place in the pronunciation of vowels in the transition from Middle English to later Modern English. These changes are knows as The Great Vowel Shift. The Great Vowel Shift Middle English Underlined vowel(s) in IPA Modern English spelling name [a] name feet [e] feet ride [i] ride boote [o] boot boot [ɔ] boat hous [u] house • The diagram below shows some changes that involve so-called “long” vowels in English • There were some intermediate steps that are not shown here • The shift took place in two main phases and was completed in the 17 century • When the production of a vowel shifts, for instance, if the vowel phoneme /a/ shifts so that it becomes produced as [e], how does that affect dispersion in the vowel phoneme inventory? • When the pronunciation of one vowel shifts into the boundaries of another, the second vowel may shift in order to remain distinct. • So one vowel change can cause a cascade of changes. Summing up • Language change can be driven in part by the need to keep sounds perceptually distinct. • Shifting one sound target into the boundaries of another can drive further changes. 1 Second Language Speakers • Phoneme targets and perceptual boundaries impact speakers of a second language. • Video: Speaker of German with limited proficiency in English confuses the English words <sinking> and <thinking>. • German consonant inventory lacks [θ] and [ð] (dental fricatives) as phoneme but has [s] and [z]. o What could we expect about German speakers’ perception of English <think> versus <sink>? o We could expect [θ] to be confused with the perception of another voiceless fricative in a nearby articulatory or acoustic region, such as [s]. o What about the production of these words in German-influenced English? o We could expect that <think> and <sink> would be pronounced the same. Spanish-influenced English • Speech patterns that are common among speakers whose first language is Spanish and who have limited proficiency in English. Some reasons why Spanish-influenced English is important in the US and in California in particular: • The Hispanic population in the US reached 55 million in 2015. • 73.3% of Hispanics ages 5 and older spoke Spanish at home in 2013. • The Hispanic population in LA County reached 4.9 million in 2014, the highest of any US county. (US Census Bureau) • At 15 million, California’s Hispanic population is the largest of any state. Spanish vowels • Five vowel phonemes: /i, e, a, o, u/ • In Spanish spelling, vowels’ pronunciation is generally close to the equivalent IPA symbols • By comparison, in Modern English, The Great Vowel Shift caused letters to be associated with vowel sounds that are different from traditional Latin and IPA usage. Language Interference – Vowels • Spanish – 5 vowel phonemes • English – about 14 vowel phonemes • SIE speakers often pronounce different vowel phonemes of English as just one Spanish vowel in their vicinity. • Also, mid vowels that are produced as diphthongs in English, [eɪ] and [oʊ], are often pronounced as monophthongs [e] and [o] in SIE. o Ex. <good> Standard English: [ɡʊd], SIE [ɡud] o Ex. <hope> Standard English: [hoʊp], SIE [hop] o Ex. <sit> Standard English: [sɪt], SIE [sit] 2 Language Interference – Consonants • Spanish consonant phonemes – see handout. • Some observations: o No /v/ o No /z/ o No [θ] or [ð] o Two alveolar ‘r’-like sounds: flap [ɾ] and trill [r] Some frequent tendencies in Spanish-influenced English • Voiced fricative to stop shift. /v/ ▯ [b] at the beginning of a word. • Some fricatives and stops become voiceless. Exx: /z/ ▯ [s], /ɡ/ ▯ [k] • Dental fricatives become stops. /θ/ ▯ [t], /ð/ ▯ [d] • Vowel insertion. Insert /e/ before [s]+consonant at the beginning of a word • Palatal consonant shift. /j/ ▯ [d͡ʒ] • Ex. sentence: Please put the flowers in the vase • Ex. sentence: You should quit yelling at your mother • Go to Blackboard: Lecture overviews and handouts > April 7 – Categories in Sound Change; Speaking a Second Language > Selected sound files from SIE to listen to sample recordings. Summary: • To overcome the Lack of Invariance problem speakers have the illusion that phonemes are a single speech sound. • This illusion, together with phonological rules of a speaker’s first language, can interfere with learning the sound system of a second language. What about English speakers learning Spanish? • Video: Taco Bell commercial about a lion who cannot produce trilled [r]. You can watch it here: 3 English-influenced Spanish • Aspiration of voiceless stops h [tu] ▯ [t u] tu ‘you’ • Vowel reduction in unstressed syllables [koˈmer] ▯ [kəˈmer] comer ‘to eat’ • Diphthongization of mid vowels [blaŋko] ▯ [blaŋkoʊ] blanco ‘white’ (masc.) Assumptions about speakers with a foreign accent • Stereotypes are often associated with speakers who have a foreign accent. o Many of these stereotypes are negative, but not all. o However, speaking a second language with a foreign accent is not a sign of lower intelligence. o Simply the effect of interference of speech sound categories and patterns from the native language. In addition to these lecture notes, you should also make use of the handouts that were distributed in today’s class, which are available on Blackboard. Some important terms/concepts Vowel shift/The Great Vowel Shift Dispersion Spanish-influenced English English-influenced Spanish Language Interference • You should be familiar with the vowel changes that were shown in the diagram for the Great Vowel Shift and understand why the shift of one vowel could precipitate other vowel changes. • You should be familiar with the kinds of vowel changes and consonant changes in Spanish-influenced English that were discussed, and for English-influenced Spanish. • You should understand how categories that are formed for speech sounds in a speaker’s first language can interfere with that speaker’s acquisition of a second language, using characteristics of Spanish-influenced English as an example. 4


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