Interference for 'new' versus 'similar' vowels in Korean speakers of English

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Ohio State University. Department of Linguistics

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This paper tests Flege's (1987) Speech Learning Model and Bohn and Flege's (in press) hypothesis about the 'deflected' realization rule of a 'similar' L2 vowel. It is shown that Korean-English bilinguals' production of new English vowels, /I, U/, conforms to Flege's prediction. However, their production of similar English vowels, /i, u, U/, conformed to neither Flege's model nor to Bohn and Flege's hypothesis. We especially examined the interference between Korean and English high vowels, /i, I, U, u/, and /U/ based on 8 Korean-English bilinguals with different years of residence in the States, 4 English monolinguals and 3 Korean monolinguals. Formant values of English vowels produced by Korean-English bilinguals with different years of residence in America were compared with those of English monolinguals. For the vowel /i/, Flege's notion of 'similar' L2 vowels needs be redefined to distinguish similar and identical vowels. He may need either some continuous measures or more systematic criteria to categorize whether a phone in L2 is new or similar to phones in L1.




Working Papers in Linguistics, no. 43 (1994), 117-130.