16th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Dresden, Germany
September 6-10, 2015

Perception of French Speakers' German Vowels

Frank Zimmerer, Jürgen Trouvain

Universität des Saarlandes, Germany

Despite some similarities in their inventories, German and French exhibit marked differences in the vowel systems. Most notably, German uses both tenseness and length to differentiate vowels, whereas in French, vowel length is not distinctive. Therefore, interferences can be expected when French native speakers learn to speak German. Results of a vowel judgment experiment with vowels in minimal pairs produced by 56 French learners of German, indicate that these learners have indeed problems producing German vowels correctly. Advanced learners manage vowel productions better than beginners. Both groups show lengthening as well as shortening errors. Furthermore, rounded vowels seem to pose more severe problems in L2 acquisition than unrounded vowels. These results have important implications for language learning and teaching, particularly for individualized computer-assisted pronunciation training.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Zimmerer, Frank / Trouvain, Jürgen (2015): "Perception of French speakers' German vowels", In INTERSPEECH-2015, 1720-1724.