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Auteur: Seung-ah HONG

'One way or another'- the multilateral cross-linguistic influence: A case study on native German speakers with ambient exposure of Korean

Abstract/Résumé: Do people who live with a foreign language hear differently from those who don’t? The current study examines this question by testing a group of German (L1) speakers who are exposed to Korean (L2) language. Earlier studies suggest that an L2 experience may enhance the sensitivity towards L2 phonetic contrasts, and some even argue that the acoustic characteristic of L1 categories can be fluctuated through the acquisition process. However, these findings are limited to active learners in general. To investigate the effect of ambient L2 exposure on both L1 and L2 phonetic categories, the current study focuses on the speakers exposed to an L2 environment without any intention of learning the language. The hypothesis being tested was that even ambient exposure can influence the perception of L2 speech sounds such that the assimilation between L1 and L2 categories may be differed through the experience, and further, it incurs the reverse transfer and may changes the boundaries of L1 categories. The predictions are tested in the two experiments that compared the perception of front-high vowels in both languages by two groups of L1 German speakers differing in Korean language experience: The monolingual German speakers without an exposure to Korean (G1) and the native German speakers residing in Korea (G2). In the first part, the participants are asked to find a match of the Korean /i/ within the given German front-high vowel candidates and give the goodness-fit rating. An identification task for synthetic vowel stimuli based on German vowels is followed by it. The members of synthetic continua of German vowels, /i/ and /ɪ/, are used in this experiment; the vowels in one continuum ranged based on the temporal variation of two vowels while in the other, the vowels ranged by the spectral variation. The results show that there are slight differences in the performances between G1 and G2 in both experiments, but this is not statistically significant. As a conclusion, the bi-directional cross-linguistic influence may not be applicable for the case of passive learning.