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Perceptual flexibility during second language learning: the role of language experience in Korean-English bilinguals' pitch perception

Lee, Miroo (2024) Perceptual flexibility during second language learning: the role of language experience in Korean-English bilinguals' pitch perception. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Listeners selectively tune in to the most relevant cues for contrasting sounds, and this process impacts their perceptual sensitivity to these cues (Nosofsky, 1986; Pisoni, 1991). For bilingual listeners, recent work suggests a shared L1/L2 phonology system with the phonetic properties of each sound established in a language-specific way (Dmitrieva, 2019; Garcia-Sierra et al., 2009). While this work has predominantly examined changes in phonemic boundaries across languages, there has been much less work examining language-specificity in cue-weightings or perceptual sensitivity. Further, as these aspects of perception have primarily been explored through the lens of cumulative effects of long-term language experience, our understanding of short-term language experience, sometimes termed 'language mode', remains unclear. The present study seeks to bridge this gap by examining the effects of both long-term and short-term linguistic context on both cue reliance and perceptual sensitivity.
The current study exploits the fact that pitch contrasts stop consonants in Korean, but not in English (Lisker & Abramson, 1964), providing a testing ground to assess the extent of perceptual changes across languages. Three research questions are posed: 1) How does the contrastive use of pitch in a listener's first language warp perceptual sensitivity? 2) To what extent are bilinguals’ perceptual patterns affected by language mode? And 3) What is the relationship between second language learning history and language-specific listening strategies?
Perception of pitch of Korean-English bilinguals and English monolinguals was tested utilizing a series of listening tasks (discrimination, goodness-rating, and labeling) in two distinct sessions. In each session, listeners heard acoustically identical target stimuli, within language-specific experiment settings meant to invoke English and Korean listening modes. Results showed that Korean-English bilinguals exhibited perceptual warping of pitch through acquired similarity: pitch differences were harder to detect within Korean stop categories. This effect was limited to listeners’ L1 Korean language mode, suggesting perceptual warping can be mediated by listeners’ relative reliance on cue. Significant correlations were also found between L2 exposure and both L1 cue-weighting and cross-language perceptual shift, demonstrating that long-term immersion in a second language can have consequences for the organization of L1 phonetic space.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lee, Miroomiroolee427@gmail.commil1360000-0002-6762-2598
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFricke,
Committee MemberJuffs,
Committee MemberMauk, Claude
Committee MemberWiener,
Date: 13 May 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 March 2024
Approval Date: 13 May 2024
Submission Date: 1 April 2024
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 133
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: speech perception, language mode, perceptual sensitivity, cue-weighting
Date Deposited: 13 May 2024 13:51
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 13:51

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