Accounting for multicompetence and restructuring in the study of speech
Chang, Charles B.
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Citation (published version)Charles B. Chang. 2015. "Accounting for multicompetence and restructuring in the study of speech." The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 169th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. Pittsburgh, PA, https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4920671
Phonetic studies meant to generalize to monolingual speakers of a target language have often examined individuals with considerable experience using another language, such as the immigrant native speaker. This paper presents, first, results from a meta-analysis of the literature, suggesting that conflation of ostensibly bilingual (“multicompetent”) individuals with monolinguals remains common practice and, second, longitudinal data on speech production that demonstrate why this practice is problematic. Adult native English speakers recently arrived in Korea showed significant changes in acoustic properties of their English production during their first weeks of learning Korean (“phonetic drift”) and, furthermore, continued to show altered English production a year later, months after their last Korean class and without extensive use of Korean in daily life. These patterns suggest that the linguistic experience associated with residence in a foreign language environment tends to induce and then prolong phonetic drift of the native language, making the multicompetent native speaker living in a foreign language environment unrepresentative of a monolingual in the native language environment. The speed and persistence of these effects highlight the need for language researchers to be explicit about the population under study and to accordingly control (and describe) language background in a study sample.
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