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© 2020 by the authors. The ability to discriminate phonetically similar first language (L1) and second language (L2) sounds has significant consequences for achieving target-like proficiency in second-language learners. This study examines the L2 perception of Spanish approximants [Β, δ, γ] in comparison with their voiced stop counterparts [b, d, g] by adult English-Spanish bilinguals. Of interest is how perceptual effects are modulated by factors related to language dominance, including proficiency, language history, attitudes, and L1/L2 use, as measured by the Bilingual Language Profile questionnaire. Perception of target phones was assessed in adult native Spanish speakers (n = 10) and Spanish learners (n = 23) of varying proficiency levels, via (vowel-consonant-vowel) VCV sequences featuring both Spanish approximants and voiced stops during an AX discrimination task. Results indicate a significant positive correlation between perceptual accuracy and a language dominance score. Findings further demonstrate a significant hierarchy of increasing perceptual difficulty: Β < δ < γ. Through an examination of bilingual language dominance, composed of the combined effects of language history, use, proficiency, and attitudes, the present study contributes a more nuanced and complete examination of individual variables that affect L2 perception, reaching beyond proficiency and experience alone.
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Citation of this paper:
Black, M.; Joanisse, M.F.; Rafat, Y. Language Dominance Modulates the Perception of Spanish Approximants in Late Bilinguals. Languages 2020, 5, 7. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5010007