DOI: 10.14704/nq.2018.16.4.1210

Acoustic Analysis of Intensive Language Exposure on Second Language Learners’ Cognitive Perception Pattern of American English Phonemes

Chunyi Zhou


This paper attempts to quantify the perception of tense vowel /i/ and lax vowel /I/ in American English by native speakers and Chinese learners and testify if Chinese learners also rely more on acoustic features than duration to differentiate the minimal pair /i/-/I/ in the phonetic system of American English. Based on the related phonetic studies in second language learners (SLLs), the perceptual assimilation model (PAM) and the speech learning model (SLM) were adopted to discuss the effect of intensive language exposures on the perception of English phonemes among Chinese learners. To quantify the effects of the ILE on the perception pattern of the SLLs, two English phonetic continuums were constructed for a tense-lax vowel contrast /i/ and /I/. Then, three groups of subjects, involving 60 English major students and 10 native speakers, received two identification tests and one discrimination test. The test results reveal that the native speakers and the SLLs relied on different acoustic cues to distinguish between /i/ and /I/. The former mainly depended on formant distribution, while the latter on duration. Besides, it is also concluded that the ILE enabled the SLLs to develop a similar perception pattern to that of the native speakers. The research sheds new light on the acquisition of second language among Chinese learners.


Acoustic analysis, cognitive perception pattern, intensive language exposure (ILE), second language learners (SLLs), native language (L1), target language (L2)

Full Text:



Best C. The emergence of native-language phonological influences in infants: a perceptual assimilation model In Goodman JC, Nusbaum HC (eds.). The development of speech perception. Cambridge: Mass: MIT Press, 1994.

Escudero. Developmental patterns in the adults L2 acquisition of new contrasts: the acoustic cue weighting in the perception of Scottish tense/lax vowels by Spanish speakers. Unpublished M.Sc. thesis the University of Edinburgh, 2000.

Flege JE, Bohn OS, Jang S. Effects of experience on non-native speakers' production and perception of English vowels. Journal of Phonetics 1997;25(4):437-70.

Fox RA, Fledge JE, Munro MJ. The perception of English and Spanish vowels by native English listeners: A multidimensional scaling analysis. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 1995; 97 (4): 2540-50.

Klatt DH. Linguistic uses of segmental duration in English: Acoustic and perceptual evidence. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 1976; 59 (5): 1208-21.

Lado R. Linguistics Across Cultures: Applied Linguistics for Language Teachers. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1957.

Neary TM. Static, dynamic and relational properties in vowel perception. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 1989; 85 (5): 2088-113.

Repp BH. Categorical perception: Issues, methods, findings. InSpeech and language. Elsevier, 1984; 10: 243-335.

Strange W, Edman TR, Jenkins JL. Acoustic and phonological factors in vowel identification. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 1979; 5(4):643-56.

Sun YH. Effects of Language Training on Mandarin Chinese Students’ Perception of America tense vowel /i/ and lax vowel /I/. Journal of Xinjiang Normal University 2006; (27): 127-32.

Yang F, Wu SY. Cross-linguistic Phonetic Interference on the Processing of Oral Lexicons in Second Language Learning. Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Research 2015; 47 (4): 559-72.

Supporting Agencies

| NeuroScience + QuantumPhysics> NeuroQuantology :: Copyright 2001-2019