Previous work has shown that languages differ in their articulatory setting, the postural configuration that the vocal tract articulators tend to adopt when they are not engaged in any active speech gesture, and that this posture might be specified as part of the phonological knowledge speakers have of the language. This study tests whether the articulatory setting of a language can be acquired by non-native speakers. Three native speakers of German who had learned English as a second language were imaged using real-time MRI of the vocal tract while reading passages in German and English, and features that capture vocal tract posture were extracted from the inter-speech pauses in their native and non-native languages. Results show that the speakers exhibit distinct inter-speech postures in each language, with a lower and more retracted tongue in English, consistent with classic descriptions of the differences between the German and the English articulatory settings. This supports the view that non-native speakers may acquire relevant features of the articulatory setting of a second language, and also lends further support to the idea that articulatory setting is part of a speaker's phonological competence in a language.
Bibliographic reference. Benítez, Andrés / Ramanarayanan, Vikram / Goldstein, Louis / Narayanan, Shrikanth S. (2014): "A real-time MRI study of articulatory setting in second language speech", In INTERSPEECH-2014, 701-705.