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      The effects of language dominance switch in bilinguals: Galician new speakers' speech production and perception

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      Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

      Cambridge University Press (CUP)

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          Abstract

          It has long been debated whether speech production and perception remain flexible in adulthood. The current study investigates the effects of language dominance switch in Galician new speakers ( neofalantes) who are raised with Spanish as a primary language and learn Galician at an early age in a bilingual environment, but in adolescence, decide to switch to using Galician almost exclusively, for ideological reasons. Results showed that neofalantespattern with Spanish-dominants in their perception and production of mid-vowel and fricative contrasts, but with Galician-dominants in their realisation of unstressed word-final vowels, a highly salient feature of Galician. These results are taken to suggest that despite early exposure to Galician, high motivation and almost exclusive Galician language use post-switch, there are limitations to what neofalantescan learn in both production and perception, but that the hybrid categories they appear to develop may function as opportunities to mark identity within a particular community.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Brain imaging of language plasticity in adopted adults: can a second language replace the first?

          Do the neural circuits that subserve language acquisition lose plasticity as they become tuned to the maternal language? We tested adult subjects born in Korea and adopted by French families in childhood; they have become fluent in their second language and report no conscious recollection of their native language. In behavioral tests assessing their memory for Korean, we found that they do not perform better than a control group of native French subjects who have never been exposed to Korean. We also used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to monitor cortical activations while the Korean adoptees and native French listened to sentences spoken in Korean, French and other, unknown, foreign languages. The adopted subjects did not show any specific activations to Korean stimuli relative to unknown languages. The areas activated more by French stimuli than by foreign stimuli were similar in the Korean adoptees and in the French native subjects, but with relatively larger extents of activation in the latter group. We discuss these data in light of the critical period hypothesis for language acquisition.
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            A limit on behavioral plasticity in speech perception.

            It is well attested that we perceive speech through the filter of our native language: a classic example is that of Japanese listeners who cannot discriminate between the American /l/ and /r/ and identify both as their own /r/ phoneme (Goto. H., 1971. Neuropsychologia 9, 317-323.). Studies in the laboratory have shown, however, that perception of non-native speech sounds can be learned through training (Lively, S.E., Pisoni, D.B., Yamada, R.A., Tohkura, Y.I., Yamada, T., 1994. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 96 (4), 2076-2087). This is consistent with neurophysiological evidence showing considerable experience-dependent plasticity in the brain at the first levels of sensory processing (Edeline, J.-M., Weinberger, N.M., 1993. Behavioral Neuroscience 107, 82-103; Merzenich, M.M., Sameshima, K., 1993. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 3, 187-196; Weinberger, N.M., 1993. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 3, 577-579; Kraus, N., McGee, T., Carrel, T.D., King, C., Tremblay, K., Nicol, T., 1995. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 7 (1), 25-32). Outside of the laboratory, however, the situation seems to differ: we here report is study involving Spanish-Catalan bilingual subjects who have had the best opportunities to learn a new contrast but did not do it. Our study demonstrates a striking lack of behavioral plasticity: early and extensive exposure to a second language is not sufficient to attain the ultimate phonological competence of native speakers.
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              Training Japanese listeners to identify English /r/ and /l/: long-term retention of learning in perception and production.

              Previous work from our laboratories has shown that monolingual Japanese adults who were given intensive high-variability perceptual training improved in both perception and production of English /r/-/l/ minimal pairs. In this study, we extended those findings by investigating the long-term retention of learning in both perception and production of this difficult non-native contrast. Results showed that 3 months after completion of the perceptual training procedure, the Japanese trainees maintained their improved levels of performance of the perceptual identification task. Furthermore, perceptual evaluations by native American English listeners of the Japanese trainees' pretest, posttest, and 3-month follow-up speech productions showed that the trainees retained their long-term improvements in the general quality, identifiability, and overall intelligibility of their English/r/-/l/ word productions. Taken together, the results provide further support for the efficacy of high-variability laboratory speech sound training procedures, and suggest an optimistic outlook for the application of such procedures for a wide range of "special populations."
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
                Bilingualism
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                1366-7289
                1469-1841
                May 2019
                June 13 2018
                May 2019
                : 22
                : 3
                : 637-654
                Article
                10.1017/S1366728918000603
                © 2019

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