Cross-language perception of word-final stops

Kimiko Tsukada*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter reviews some recent studies on cross-language perception involving speakers and listeners of various Asian languages. Specifically, results from experiments which examined discrimination accuracy of word-final stop place contrasts (/p/–/t/, /p/–/k/, /t/–/k/) in familiar (English) and unfamiliar (Thai) languages by listeners from four language backgrounds (Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese) are reported. The results obtained from these four experimental and two control groups of listeners (Australian English, Thai) (Tsukada, 2006; Tsukada & Ishihara, 2007; Tsukada & Roengpitya, 2008) together with recent findings from studies on vowel length contrasts (Tsukada, 2011, 2012a, 2012b) suggest that first language (L1) transfer is not always useful or beneficial and that the task that the listeners perform, as well as their previous linguistic experience, may affect if and how listeners utilize their L1 knowledge. Overview/background: It is generally agreed that learners’ L1 or their previous linguistic experience has a profound influence on subsequent language learning (Strange, 1995). Furthermore, L1 influence appears to be stronger for adults than for children (e.g. Flege, 1995, 2003) and stronger in the area of phonetics/phonology than in other areas of linguistic properties (Toda, 2003). Theories of cross-language speech perception (e.g. Perceptual Assimilation Model (PAM): Best, 1995) posit that discrimination accuracy of non-native sound contrasts depends on the perceived relationship between native and non-native sounds. For example, it is well known that Japanese second language (L2) learners have considerable difficulty producing and perceiving English /l/and /r/(see Aoyama et al. (2004) for a review). Both of these sounds are assimilated to a single Japanese category, /r/([ɾ]). If, on the other hand, two contrastive L2 sounds are perceptually mapped onto two distinct L1 sounds (e.g. English /w/and /j/for Japanese learners), they are more likely to be discriminated accurately in the L2.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSouth and Southeast Asian Psycholinguistics
EditorsHeather Winskel, Prakash Padakannaya
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781139084642
ISBN (Print)9781107017764
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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