Phonology in Protolanguage and Interlanguage - Elena Babatsouli

Phonology in Protolanguage and Interlanguage - Elena Babatsouli

7. Schwa Productions in Spanish-English Bilingual Adults

Phonology in Protolanguage and Interlanguage - Elena Babatsouli

Kelly Millard [+-]
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Kelly Millard is from Miami, Florida and attended Florida State University where she received her Bachelor's degree. In 2015, she received a Master's in Linguistics from Florida International University where she studied under Professor Mehmet Yavaş and focused on acoustic phonetics. While at FIU, she was awarded the Truby Award for her outstanding achievements in the Linguistics program. Currently, she is a PhD student in the Department of Communicative Disorders at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she studies Applied Language and Speech Sciences.
Mehmet Yavaş [+-]
Florida International University
Mehmet Yavaş is a Professor of Linguistics at Florida International University. He has published numerous articles on applied phonology and is the principal author of Avaliacao Fonologica da Crianca, a phonological assessment procedure for Brazilian Portuguese. His other publications include Phonological disorders in children (1991), First and second language phonology (1994), Phonology: Development and disorders (1998), Unusual productions in phonology (2014) and Applied English phonology (3rd edition 2015).


Several studies have shown that a lag of even a few years of acquiring a second language L2 tends to have dramatic consequences on both speech production and perception. The study reported here investigates the production of American English reduced vowels by early sequential Spanish-English bilingual adults. The central question is whether adult bilinguals are able to develop native-like phonological patterns and maintain separate phonetic categories for the sounds of their L2 (English), or if starting a few years later will create impediments in the formation of new phonetic categories. We acoustically investigated the durations and quality of English reduced vowels in unstressed syllables produced by early Spanish-English bilinguals. The analyses of vowels were done in two different prosodic environments and word frequency was also measured, to examine the effect of these two factors (prosodic environment and word frequency) on vowel duration and quality. The productions of bilinguals were compared to a control group consisting of monolingual English adults in order to determine the amount of deviation in both duration and formant frequencies. Through an analysis of multiple variables, the research contributes evidence that early age of acquisition of a bilingual speaker’s L2 may result in a perceived native-like sound; however measurable differences suggest that their pronunciation is different from that of monolingual speakers. Their system is phonemically stable (native-like), but phonetically exhibiting non-monolingual aspects.

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Millard, Kelly; Yavaş, Mehmet . 7. Schwa Productions in Spanish-English Bilingual Adults. Phonology in Protolanguage and Interlanguage. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 201-230 Jan 2018. ISBN 9781781795644. Date accessed: 23 Mar 2018 doi: 10.1558/equinox.31675. Jan 2018

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