Effect of multi-lingualism on perception of short and long vowels in Arabic and Japanese

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This study compared cross-language speech perception of vowel length contrasts in Arabic and Japanese by two groups of listeners whose first language (L1) was either Cantonese (C) or Korean (K). Unlike Arabic or Japanese, C and K do not use vowel length contrastively. One group (CK+J) had experience learning Japanese as a foreign language while the other (CK) did not. The question of interest was if Japanese learning experience separated the two groups in their perception of Arabic as well as Japanese vowel length contrasts. The effect of learning Japanese was negligible for CK+J who participated in this study. Further, it appeared that learning Japanese had a somewhat negative effect on the listeners’ perception of Arabic contrasts. The pattern of results obtained may reflect a temporary and transient nature of listeners’ interlanguage and has implications for adults’ speech learning capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th international congress of phonetic sciences ICPhS XVII
EditorsWai-Sum Lee
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherCity University
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventInternational Conference on Phonetic Sciences (17th : 2011) - Hong Kong
Duration: 17 Aug 201121 Aug 2011


ConferenceInternational Conference on Phonetic Sciences (17th : 2011)
CityHong Kong


  • multilingual
  • cross-language speech perception
  • vowel length
  • Cantonese
  • Korean


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