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Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

By Rudolf Botha

Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: Can native Japanese listeners learn to differentiate /r–l/ on the basis of F3 onset frequency?
Author: Erin M. Ingvalson
Author: Lori L. Holt
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Author: James L. McClelland
Institution: Stanford University
Linguistic Field: Phonology; Psycholinguistics
Subject Language: English
Japanese
Abstract: Many attempts have been made to teach native Japanese listeners to perceptually differentiate English /r–l/ (e.g. rock–lock). Though improvement is evident, in no case is final performance native English-like. We focused our training on the third formant onset frequency, shown to be the most reliable indicator of /r–l/ category membership. We first presented listeners with instances of synthetic /r–l/ stimuli varying only in F3 onset frequency, in a forced-choice identification training task with feedback. Evidence of learning was limited. The second experiment utilized an adaptive paradigm beginning with non-speech stimuli consisting only of /r/ and /l/ F3 frequency trajectories progressing to synthetic speech instances of /ra–la/; half of the trainees received feedback. Improvement was shown by some listeners, suggesting some enhancement of /r–l/ identification is possible following training with only F3 onset frequency. However, only a subset of these listeners showed signs of generalization of the training effect beyond the trained synthetic context.

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This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 15, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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