Spelling provides a precise (but sometimes misplaced) phonological target. Orthography and acoustic variability in second language word learning

by   Pauline Welby, et al.

L1 French participants learned novel L2 English words over two days of learning sessions, with half of the words presented with their orthographic forms (Audio-Ortho) and half without (Audio only). One group heard the words pronounced by a single talker, while another group heard them pronounced by multiple talkers. On the third day, they completed a variety of tasks to evaluate their learning. Our results show a robust influence of orthography, with faster response times in both production (picture naming) and recognition (picture mapping) tasks for words learned in the Audio-Ortho condition. Moreover, formant analyses of the picture naming responses show that orthographic input pulls pronunciations of English novel words towards a non-native (French) phonological target. Words learned with their orthographic forms were pronounced more precisely (with smaller Dispersion Scores), but were misplaced in the vowel space (as reflected by smaller Euclidian distances with respect to French vowels). Finally, we found only limited evidence of an effect of talker-based acoustic variability: novel words learned with multiple talkers showed faster responses times in the picture naming task, but only in the Audio-only condition, which suggests that orthographic information may have overwhelmed any advantage of talker-based acoustic variability.


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