Impact of vowel reduction in L2 Chinese learners of Portuguese within and across word boundaries

Catarina Realinho, Rita Gonçalves, Helena Moniz, Isabel Trancoso

Connected speech processes have a great impact on word recognition. This is particularly true for L2 learners. Vowel reduction is a very productive process in European Portuguese and plays an important role within and across word boundaries. Our goal is to understand the influence of these phonetic-phonological phenomena in L2 learners of European Portuguese in word identification tasks in continuous speech. We designed a perception experiment involving these phenomena in increasing degrees of difficulty: isolated word identification without (i) and with vowel reduction (ii); word identification with simple (iii) and complex connected speech processes. This study took place in a classroom setting and it was applied to a group of B1 students of European Portuguese and a group of native speakers (control group). Data from L2 oral productions were also collected to compare it with perception data. The rate of correct answers for each task (in percentage) matched our expectations: (i) 94%; (ii) 65%; (iii) 31%; (iv) 16%. The results reveal word recognition is a challenge for L2 learners due to the connected speech processes. Besides vowel reduction brings difficulties for learners, even when the word is isolated. Production analysis reveals that learners do not produce vowel reduction nor any other phonetic-phonological phenomena across word boundaries.

doi: 10.21437/IberSPEECH.2021-4

Realinho, C, Gonçalves, R, Moniz, H, Trancoso, I (2021) Impact of vowel reduction in L2 Chinese learners of Portuguese within and across word boundaries. Proc. IberSPEECH 2021, 16-20, doi: 10.21437/IberSPEECH.2021-4.