Vowel quality Change in Romanian heritage speakers
Vowel Quality Change inRomanian Heritage Speakers SORINA DRAGUSANU WESTERN UNIVERSITY
Overview Heritage Speakers Other Literature Participants Methods Results Discussion
Heritage Speakers Who are they? Term coined in Canada in 1970 (Cummins, 2005) Child or adult speakers of a linguistic minority who grew up exposed to both dominant and minority language (Montrul, 2010) Little or no access to language education
Heritage Speakers Who are they? Simultaneous bilingual – learns both languages at the same time Sequential bilingual – learns native language then the dominant one (up-to age 5)
Heritage Speakers What do we know about their language abilities? Varied language abilities (low to near-native) Stronger ethnic ties or larger linguistic market is linked with overall better language performance. Sequential bilinguals perform better than simultaneous bilinguals
Heritage Speakers What do we know about their language abilities? Speakers display both native and non-native pronunciations Phonetic distance is a factor in preserving native-like pronunciation (Godson, 2004)
Heritage Speakers Why are they interesting to study? The role of language internal and external factors The emergence of new linguistic varieties Diachronic language change The very nature of the mental constitution of language and cognition
Research Questions What is the overall change in the vowel quality of heritage speakers of Romanian? What social or linguistic factors contribute to this change?
Romanian Vowel inventory i ɨ u e ə o a Frequency (Renwick, 2011): i 25% u 11% e 20% ə 5% a 20% ɨ 2% o 12%
Hypotheses If phonetic distance is a more prominent factor than order of acquisition then the central high vowel is preserved in HS Simultaneous bilinguals will be considerably more affected than sequential bilinguals; Sequential bilinguals pattern more closely with late bilinguals.
Participants Where South-Western Ontario Heritage groups Simultaneous bilinguals Sequential bilinguals Adult groups Late Bilinguals – learned Romanian in native environment,; English is second language learned in school Age ranges from 15-30 at the time of immigration
Methods Data collection Interviews One hour long Detailed language background, demographics, and language attitudes Word list (Swadesh, 1971) 100 words Frequently used words Mainly single and disyllabic About 14 token per vowel
Methods Vowel Normalization Process: Since speaker’s mouth shapes and pitch differ we cannot do a one-to-one comparison. Normalization scales and overlaps the vowel space of groups of individuals for better comparison Function found in the vowel package for R Lobanov normalization technique for complete vowel inventories
Mean Formant Values for Control Individual vowel formant values Non-Normalized non-normalized 400 i 450 u central 500 e oF1 550 schwa 600 a 650 Control 1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 F2
Mean Formant Values formant values Individual vowel for Late Bilingual Non-Normalized non-normalized 300 i u 400 central 500 eF1 o schwa 600 700 Dio a 2000 1500 1000 F2
Mean Formant Values for Late Bilingual and Control Individual vowel formant values Lobanov normalized Normalized Lobanov •The late bilinguals have the closest productions to the i i control -1 u •Changes are observed in the central u schwa and back vowels central •T-test results show significant change for F2 of 0 o e e schwa and back vowelsF*1 o schwa 1 schwa a 2 Control a Dio 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 -0.5 -1.0 -1.5 F*2
Individual vowel formant valuesSequential Bilingual Mean Formant Values for Lobanov normalized Normalized Lobanov •Sequential bilinguals are much more varied in their i productions -1 i u •Changes are observed in all central u vowels central •Group results show o o significant changes for the F2 0 e values of back vowels, muchF*1 e like the late bilingual group schwa 1 schwa a 2 Laura a Control 2 1 0 -1 F*2
Mean Formant Values for Simultaneous Bilingual Individual vowel formant values Lobanov normalized Normalized Lobanov •Simultaneous bilinguals are the most varied in production i i of Romanian vowels -1 u •As with simultaneous group, u changes are observed in all central vowels central •Group results however show that this group has the most 0 e oF*1 o significant changes, e schwa especially in the mid vowels, [e] [ə] and [ɨ] 1 schwa a Control a 2 Simultaneous Bilingual 2 1 0 -1 F*2
Discussion & Conclusion Phonetic distance does not help heritage speakers distinguish [ɨ] from other vowels as predicted by the SLM and seen in Godson’s (2004) paper Simultaneous bilinguals have a difficult time mapping out the central vowel space of Romanian Frequency of use and the existence of minimal pairs are crucial to forming and maintaining the necessary contrast between this vowel and the mid-central In addition, F2 and the back vowels are more susceptible to variation and influence.
Thank you! Selected Sources: Bullock, B. E. & Green, C. (2004). Phonological convergence in a contracting language variety. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 7(2), 95-104. Clopper, C. G. (2009). Computational methods for normalizing acoustic vowel data for talker differences. Language and Linguistics Compass, 3 (6), 1430–1442. Godson, L. (2004). Vowel production in the speech of western Armenian heritage speakers. Heritage Language Journal, 2 (1). Locke, J. L. (1983). Phonological acquisition and change. New York: Academic Press. Montrul, S. (2010). Current issues in heritage language acquisition. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics,30, pp. 3-23
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