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Phonological representations in children’s native and non-native lexicon

Simon, E., Sjerps, M. J., & Fikkert, P. (2014). Phonological representations in children’s native and non-native lexicon. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17(1), 3-21. doi:10.1017/S1366728912000764.
This study investigated the phonological representations of vowels in children's native and non-native lexicons. Two experiments were mispronunciation tasks (i.e., a vowel in words was substituted by another vowel from the same language). These were carried out by Dutch-speaking 9–12-year-old children and Dutch-speaking adults, in their native (Experiment 1, Dutch) and non-native (Experiment 2, English) language. A third experiment tested vowel discrimination. In Dutch, both children and adults could accurately detect mispronunciations. In English, adults, and especially children, detected substitutions of native vowels (i.e., vowels that are present in the Dutch inventory) by non-native vowels more easily than changes in the opposite direction. Experiment 3 revealed that children could accurately discriminate most of the vowels. The results indicate that children's L1 categories strongly influenced their perception of English words. However, the data also reveal a hint of the development of L2 phoneme categories.

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