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The University of Southampton
Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research

Continuity of native language development in adulthood: The case of phonetic drift Seminar

17:00 - 18:30
25 November 2020

Event details

First language (L1) acquisition is often described as a process leading to an endpoint, implying a stable language system in adulthood. In this talk, I will present longitudinal phonetic data that challenge this view and suggest instead that the L1 system of adult speakers continues to develop in response to new language experience. Adult native English speakers recently arrived in Korea were found to show significant "phonetic drift" in acoustic properties of their L1 production while learning Korean as a second language (L2); furthermore, a year later they continued to show modified L1 production in some, but not all, of the properties that changed during L2 learning, and the persistence of L1 modifications did not necessarily depend on frequent active L2 use in daily life. These patterns suggest that language contact associated with L2 learning and residence in an L2 environment tends to induce and then prolong phonetic drift of the L1. I will discuss the speed, persistence, and variability of these effects, which highlight the need for language researchers to consider both the population and the variable under study and to accordingly control (and describe) language background in a study sample.

Speaker information

Charles B. Chang, Boston University . .

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