Manual The Phonology of Catalan (The Phonology of the Worlds Languages)

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Spanish Linguistics Graduate | Spanish/Portuguese Department at Illinois

Furthermore, perception difficulties have been shown to also have consequences for lexical access. These earlier findings in Barcelona may have been an artifact of the variety of Catalan being acquired. The study of the Catalan mid-vowels of early bilinguals in a different bilingual community, such as the one in Majorca, provides the opportunity to considerably reduce confounding factors that could have affected the previous results with Spanish-Catalan bilinguals in Barcelona.

Due to differences in the historical evolution of the vowel systems in the dialects of Catalan, Majorcan Catalan has a vowel system and lexical distribution of these vowels that is distinct from the variety spoken in Barcelona. In a bilingual setting such as the one in Barcelona, Spanish-dominant speakers may receive highly variable and inconsistent Catalan input i. In Amengual , 60 early Spanish-Catalan bilinguals in Majorca completed a categorical AXB discrimination task and picture-naming task to examine the perception and production of the Catalan front and back mid-vowel contrasts.

The results showed that the Catalan-specific mid-vowels were more susceptible to discrimination difficulties than other vowel contrasts in the language. Even though these bilinguals were found to maintain robust mid-vowel contrasts in their productions, the degree of language dominance was found to have an effect on the acoustic distance maintained between the mid-vowels. Amengual explored the perception and processing of these mid-vowels by these same bilingual participants. Results from binary forced-choice identification, AX discrimination, and lexical decision tasks indicated that even though these bilinguals demonstrated a high accuracy in perceptual identification and discrimination tasks, they had difficulties distinguishing between words and non-words in a lexical decision task, with Spanish-dominants exhibiting higher error rates than Catalan-dominants.

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Of central importance to this study, the production and lexical decision experiments investigate whether cognate lexical items increase phonetic interference in the acoustic realization and lexical representations of early and highly proficient bilinguals. The amount of overlap in the lexicon depends on the language pair of the bilingual. Although the phonological match between cognates in two languages is seldom perfect, correspondences noted between lexical items in two languages have been shown to more likely involve similarities at the phonological level rather than meaning or etymological history Carroll, For this purpose, cognate items included as experimental stimuli in this study consist of words that are phonologically, orthographically and semantically similar.

This is not the first study to examine lexical effects in the production of a Catalan-specific mid-vowel contrast. The main questions that are explored in this study are the following: Is phonetic interference increased in the production of cognates? In other words, does cognate status have an impact on the acoustic realization of these mid-vowels?

And also, does cognate status affect the lexical representations of Catalan words that include the Catalan-specific back mid-vowel contrast for these early Spanish-Catalan bilinguals? To the best of my knowledge there are no previous studies that have examined the phonetic production and processing of the same target cognate and non-cognate lexical items in two groups of bilinguals that differ in language dominance. Because of the special status of cognates, it is reasonable to hypothesize that cognates will show different patterns of processing when compared to non-cognates.

This cognate effect is expected to extend from the facilitation effects and processing advantages shown in previous psycholinguistic studies, demonstrating a cognate effect on the acoustic production and lexical representations of early bilinguals that affect the ability to maintain native-like contrasts in a language. A total of 24 male Spanish-Catalan bilinguals participated in the production experiment. All participants reported normal speech and hearing and normal or corrected to normal vision, and they all received monetary compensation for their participation in the study.

All participants were born, raised, and educated in Majorca. In order to obtain information on the language dominance of the Spanish-Catalan bilingual participants, all participants completed the Bilingual Language Profile BLP questionnaire Birdsong et al. The BLP is an instrument for assessing language dominance through self-reports and it produces a continuous dominance score and a general bilingual profile taking into account multiple dimensions: age of acquisition of the L1 and L2, frequency and contexts of use, competence in different skills, and attitudes toward each language see Gertken et al.

All of these factors are organized in four modules, which received equal weighting in the global language score language history, language use, language proficiency, and language attitudes. The BLP was administered prior to the production and perception experiments, and was provided in Spanish or Catalan, depending on participant's preference. The classification of participants as Spanish-dominant or Catalan-dominant was determined by the responses to the questionnaire, which generated a global score for each of the languages Spanish and Catalan , a language particular score for each module, and a global score of dominance.

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The point system was converted to a scale score with the Catalan score subtracted from the Spanish score. Dominance scores ranged from — Participants with negative points were classified as Spanish-dominant while participants with positive points were classified as Catalan-dominant. Language dominance as a function of group according to the BLP Birdsong et al. Age, age of exposure, accent self-ratings, and typical daily use of both languages for each language dominance group.

The stimuli for this experiment consisted of illustrations representing non-ambiguous objects. Pictorial representations of lexical items were selected instead of the written form to avoid orthographic effects. The ratings for the cross-language pairs were submitted to a one-way ANOVA to ensure that cognate and non-cognate items were rated differently.

The lexical conditions were also matched for word frequency, based on written word frequency in non-literary texts Rafel i Fontanals, The picture-naming task was conducted individually in a quiet room with participants comfortably seated in front of a computer display. Participants were told that the study involved naming pictures on a computer screen and that their speech would be recorded for subsequent acoustic analysis. All instructions and interactions between the participants and the researcher were in Spanish, independently of participants' language dominance.

Spanish, instead of Catalan, was selected as the language to use when giving instructions and interacting with participants because Catalan-dominant bilinguals are generally more comfortable interacting in Spanish than Spanish-dominants are in Catalan. This decision was also made to minimize the potential impact of language mode on bilingual speech behavior, since language mode has been shown to influence the speech production and perception patterns of bilingual individuals Soares and Grosjean, ; Grosjean, , , , , Following the instructions in Spanish, participants were presented with the entire set of pictures in randomized order and each picture appeared together with the first letter of the target word.

Each picture appeared on a computer screen for 5 s and participants were asked to name the experimental word in Catalan by embedding the target item in a carrier phrase, e. Each session contained four randomized blocks. The Catalan block contained 20 experimental items eliciting the back mid-vowels in Catalan. Because each picture appeared four times once in each block , each participant produced 80 tokens. A total of tokens were recorded from the productions of 24 Spanish-Catalan bilinguals. Because six tokens were excluded due to recording errors, or mispronunciations, the dataset comprised a total of measurements.

The speech samples for all participants were recorded using a head-mounted microphone Shure SM10A and a solid-state digital recorder Marantz PMD , digitized 44 kHz, 16 bit quantization , and computer-edited for subsequent acoustic analysis. Vowels were segmented with Praat Boersma and Weenink, using synchronized waveform and spectrographic displays.

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Praat scripts were used to parse the recording of each participant into individual files for each target item. The boundaries of each vowel were determined by examining the waveform, spectrogram, and the intensity curve. Formant trajectories, especially the trajectory of the second formant F2 , as well as intensity displays were taken as indicators of vowel onsets and offsets. The end of the vowel was marked by the disappearance of F2, on the last pitch period before stops and voiceless fricatives , and the beginning of the decline in intensity and the lowering of F2 before nasals and laterals.

When the neighboring segment was an approximant, the onset and offset of the vowel was identified at the beginning of the transitional period between approximant and vowel. Finally for diphthongs, the formant values were calculated at the center-point of the steady-states i. Vowel measurements F1 and F2 were automatically extracted at the center of the steady-state period of the vowel, together with the duration of the vowel in milliseconds using a Praat script.

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Formant tracks were calculated with the Burg algorithm Anderson, as built into the Praat program. The effective window length for the calculation was set at 25 ms, and was maintained across tokens and speakers. The maximum number of formants to be located by the formant tracker was always 5, and the ceiling was set at 5. Formant values were extracted in Hertz and were further converted to Bark, using the Hz-to-Bark function available in Praat.

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The effects of vocal tract-size differences caused by sex on the acoustics of vowels were minimized because the participant sample consisted exclusively of male speakers. This reduces the need for inter-speaker acoustic normalization procedures Adank et al. In order to examine cognate effects in the productions of these bilinguals, datasets of by-subjects aggregates were created including the median F1 and F2 values over subjects as a condition of vowel and cognate status four values per subject, two per vowel per cognate condition.


The results on the F1 and F2 data are reported separately below. Bark converted two-dimensional F1 and F2 contour maps using kernel density estimation plotting the Catalan back mid-vowels as a function of language dominance. No other interactions were significant.

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The interaction was explored by analyzing the effects of cognate status and language dominance for each vowel separately. Therefore, the dataset was divided into two subsets as a function of vowel. Bark converted two-dimensional F1 and F2 contour maps using kernel density estimation plotting the Catalan back mid-vowels as a function of cognate status and language dominance. The Pillai score is a measure of the degree of merger Hay et al.

In addition to maintaining information about the vowel token cluster distribution, the Pillai score also accounts for phonological environment.

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This indicates that each participant produced back mid-vowels with a higher degree of overlap in cognate lexical items. These results show that based on the information provided by the BLP, Spanish-dominants have a higher degree of overlap between these mid-vowels than Catalan-dominants. In addition, the language dominance continuum seems to be a strong predictor of the degree of overlap in the production of the back mid-vowels, as the most Catalan-dominant bilinguals are the ones maintaining a more robust distinction between these mid-vowels.

Individual Pillai scores as a measure of back mid-vowel merger of cognates blue triangles and non-cognates red circles plotted as a function of a speaker's BLP score. Fitted lines for cognates blue and non-cognates red. Participants were the same Spanish-Catalan bilinguals that participated in Experiment 1. The experimental stimuli for the lexical decision task consisted of the same list of 20 Catalan words used in the production experiment. The corresponding incorrectly pronounced words i. The auditory stimuli presented in the lexical decision task were obtained from the productions of three male native Majorcan Catalan speakers. The native speakers were asked to clearly enunciate the 40 experimental words 20 words and 20 non-words providing 10 repetitions of each lexical item.

The recordings of the words and non-words were made using a Shure SM10A dynamic head-mounted microphone and a solid-state digital recorder Marantz PMD , and digitized at 44 KHz and 16 bits.

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  7. After confirming that the tokens selected based on the F1 median differed with respect to the vowel, but not because of vowel status e. The statistical analyses again supported the initial selection of the median F1 as a measure to select the best exemplar of a word and non-word for each speaker.