Advanced

Phonetic Imitation, Accent, and the Learner

Markham, Duncan LU (1997) In Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund 33.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Denna avhandling presenterar en bred och kritisk översikt av litteraturen och forskningen angående inlärning av uttal och språkljud.



De problem som framför allt vuxna har med att lära sig uttalet i ett främmande språk diskuteras och de olika hypotesen granskas.



Jag argumenterar att inlärning är i stort sett en härmningsprocess. Två modeller av inlärning presenteras. Den första försöker beskriva olika inlärnings- eller härmningsprocesser i inlärning och kommunikation. Den andra försöker förklara skillnaderna mellan olika människors förmågor att lära sig nya ljud och ett nytt uttalssystem. Jag hävdar att man har en personlig förmåga att hantera ny (och gammal)... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Denna avhandling presenterar en bred och kritisk översikt av litteraturen och forskningen angående inlärning av uttal och språkljud.



De problem som framför allt vuxna har med att lära sig uttalet i ett främmande språk diskuteras och de olika hypotesen granskas.



Jag argumenterar att inlärning är i stort sett en härmningsprocess. Två modeller av inlärning presenteras. Den första försöker beskriva olika inlärnings- eller härmningsprocesser i inlärning och kommunikation. Den andra försöker förklara skillnaderna mellan olika människors förmågor att lära sig nya ljud och ett nytt uttalssystem. Jag hävdar att man har en personlig förmåga att hantera ny (och gammal) fonetisk information (t ex språkljud) och att denna förmåga är avgörande för hur bra man lyckas i ett nytt språk, hur lätt man anpassar sig till en ny språklig eller dialektal omgivning, och hur bra man behåller information (t ex ljudmodeller). Denna förmåga, kombinerad med psykologiska faktorer, avgör hur långt man kan komma i försöket att lära sig nya ljudmönster.



Olika experiment genomfördes. Åtta försökspersoner med svenska som modermål läste texter och ord i olika språk och med olika dialektala uttal (för svenskan och engelskan), och sedan härmade korta fraser och ord från för försökspersonerna både kända och okända språk. Dessa textläsningar och härmningar utvärderades sedan av infödda talare. Försökspersonerna kunde i vissa fall övertyga infödda talare att även de (försökspersonerna) var infödda, trots att ingen av försökspersonerna hade lärt sig något av de främmande språken under barndomen. (Less)
Abstract
This work is concerned with the acquisition of the phonetic characteristics of languages and dialects, and with the issue of learner talent or individual achievement in learning second languages. Following a survey of the literature on language learning limits, it is argued that the concentration on group trends in most of the existing literature, whilst convenient, serves more to obscure the reasons for the difficulties experienced by most non-child language learners than to explain them. A model of acquisition and communication combining both acquisition and sociolinguistic theory is presented. The central argument of the model is the view that most acquisition and use of the phonetic and phonological characteristics of a language occurs... (More)
This work is concerned with the acquisition of the phonetic characteristics of languages and dialects, and with the issue of learner talent or individual achievement in learning second languages. Following a survey of the literature on language learning limits, it is argued that the concentration on group trends in most of the existing literature, whilst convenient, serves more to obscure the reasons for the difficulties experienced by most non-child language learners than to explain them. A model of acquisition and communication combining both acquisition and sociolinguistic theory is presented. The central argument of the model is the view that most acquisition and use of the phonetic and phonological characteristics of a language occurs within an imitative (modelling and response) framework. The development of language skills in the infant and child and the acquisition of the first language is discussed. The interaction of established perceptual and productional representations with new phonetic input is also examined in terms of bilingualism, accent mixing and accent change. The concept of foreign accent is described in light of cultural and scientific differences in definition. It is argued that foreign accent is very much in the ear of the beholder, as listeners impose expectations and pronunciation or stylistic norms which the non-native speaker (or other native speakers) may not have been exposed to, or have mastered. It is also observed that listeners’ judgements of accent are susceptible to the influence of other factors such as information about the speaker, the experimental task, or the presence of specific errors or other accents.



Current theories of sound learning (SLM, PAM) are presented and the evidence for or against is examined. A survey of experimental data leads to the conclusion that the models, whilst providing useful information and attractive approaches to explaining some learning behaviour, are insufficient, as they assume that age and experience are the only important determiners of achievement. A model is then proposed which incorporates attentional, feedback, modelling, and representational mechanisms as a framework for learner behaviour, and emphasises the learner-specific potential of these mechanisms.



In the experimental section, a group of phonetically talented subjects imitated first language (Swedish) dialects and second languages with both immediate and delayed models. These imitations were assessed by native listeners and their accent judgements and comments are presented. It is observed that, contrary to claims in the literature, some subjects can learn to pronounce languages and dialects with no perceptible foreign accent, although there is wide variation in the data, both in terms of listener agreement, and with regard to degree of accent in the imitators’ productions. A number of observations are made regarding sound learning, the perception of accent, and the measures and norms which can reasonably be applied to learner performance and competence. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
opponent
  • Dr McAllister, Robert, Dept of Linguistics, Stockholm University
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
sociolinguistics, talent, language acquisition, phonetics, Linguistics, Lingvistik
in
Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund
volume
33
pages
270 pages
publisher
Linguistics and Phonetics
defense location
Hörsal Eden 116
defense date
1997-05-24 10:15
external identifiers
  • other:ISRN: LUHSDF/HSLF--97/1011--SE+270
ISSN
0347-2558
ISBN
91-7966-426-1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b004271e-61fb-4b84-bcd5-e8927e57b188 (old id 18284)
date added to LUP
2007-05-24 12:38:45
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:57
@phdthesis{b004271e-61fb-4b84-bcd5-e8927e57b188,
  abstract     = {This work is concerned with the acquisition of the phonetic characteristics of languages and dialects, and with the issue of learner talent or individual achievement in learning second languages. Following a survey of the literature on language learning limits, it is argued that the concentration on group trends in most of the existing literature, whilst convenient, serves more to obscure the reasons for the difficulties experienced by most non-child language learners than to explain them. A model of acquisition and communication combining both acquisition and sociolinguistic theory is presented. The central argument of the model is the view that most acquisition and use of the phonetic and phonological characteristics of a language occurs within an imitative (modelling and response) framework. The development of language skills in the infant and child and the acquisition of the first language is discussed. The interaction of established perceptual and productional representations with new phonetic input is also examined in terms of bilingualism, accent mixing and accent change. The concept of foreign accent is described in light of cultural and scientific differences in definition. It is argued that foreign accent is very much in the ear of the beholder, as listeners impose expectations and pronunciation or stylistic norms which the non-native speaker (or other native speakers) may not have been exposed to, or have mastered. It is also observed that listeners’ judgements of accent are susceptible to the influence of other factors such as information about the speaker, the experimental task, or the presence of specific errors or other accents.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Current theories of sound learning (SLM, PAM) are presented and the evidence for or against is examined. A survey of experimental data leads to the conclusion that the models, whilst providing useful information and attractive approaches to explaining some learning behaviour, are insufficient, as they assume that age and experience are the only important determiners of achievement. A model is then proposed which incorporates attentional, feedback, modelling, and representational mechanisms as a framework for learner behaviour, and emphasises the learner-specific potential of these mechanisms.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
In the experimental section, a group of phonetically talented subjects imitated first language (Swedish) dialects and second languages with both immediate and delayed models. These imitations were assessed by native listeners and their accent judgements and comments are presented. It is observed that, contrary to claims in the literature, some subjects can learn to pronounce languages and dialects with no perceptible foreign accent, although there is wide variation in the data, both in terms of listener agreement, and with regard to degree of accent in the imitators’ productions. A number of observations are made regarding sound learning, the perception of accent, and the measures and norms which can reasonably be applied to learner performance and competence.},
  author       = {Markham, Duncan},
  isbn         = {91-7966-426-1},
  issn         = {0347-2558},
  keyword      = {sociolinguistics,talent,language acquisition,phonetics,Linguistics,Lingvistik},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {270},
  publisher    = {Linguistics and Phonetics},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund},
  title        = {Phonetic Imitation, Accent, and the Learner},
  volume       = {33},
  year         = {1997},
}