[PS-2.78] The role of articulatory information in establishing lexical contrasts in a second language

Llompart, M. & Reinisch, E.

Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing, LMU Munich

Lexical contrasts in a second language (L2) can be established even when they contain sounds that are perceptually confusable. However, it remains unclear what cues, in addition to the acoustic signal, contribute to the encoding of these contrasts. This study examined whether exposure to articulatory information about the sounds of a difficult L2 contrast (English /E/-/æ/ for German speakers) results in the encoding of a contrast between words containing these two categories. Seventy native speakers of German were trained on novel English words with these sounds (e.g., tenzer-tandek). A baseline 'audio' group, received auditory feedback only. A 'video' group additionally saw videos of the speaker articulating the target words. A 'repetition' group repeated the target words themselves as feedback. After training, all participants performed the same visual-world eye-tracking task with audio-only stimuli. Both video feedback and word repetition, but not audio-only feedback, rendered an asymmetric pattern of word recognition favoring /E/, the sound that better fits to an L1 category, similar to the non-native-like encoding reported for real English words. This indicates that articulatory knowledge, acquired through passive exposure to visual information and active production, respectively, can trigger the establishment of lexical contrasts between words containing difficult foreign sounds.