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Title:The Sensitive Period Hypothesis in L2 Production: /I/ Versus /I/ and Voicing-Dependent Vowel Duration in the English Speech Produced by Korean Speakers of English
Author(s):Kim, Ryonhee
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mack, Molly
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:This study tested the sensitive period hypothesis in relation to L2 production. Thirty Korean speakers of English who came to the United States at varying ages participated in two experiments. When they came to the U.S., their ages ranged from 0 (at birth) to 26. Their mean length of stay in the target country was about 15 years. They were divided into 5 groups according to their age-of-English onset--0-3, 4-7, 8-11, 12-15, and 16+. They were assessed on their production of the English vowels /i/ and /I/ and voicing-dependent vowel duration.
It was found that all the Korean groups produced the /i/ with native-like formant frequencies and with slightly shorter durations than the native English group. All the Korean groups produced the /I/ with native-like formant frequencies except the 16+ group, who produced the vowel with /i/-like formant frequencies. The 16+ Korean group produced the /I/ significantly shorter than the native English group in isolation form, while all the Korean groups did so in the carrier-sentence form. Thus, the 16+ Korean group differentiated the /I/ from the /i/ based on vowel durations, rather than formant frequencies.
With regard to voicing-dependent vowel duration, no significant differences were found between the Korean groups and the native English group in terms of voicing effects. However, the subjects in the 8-11, 12-15, and 16+ Korean exhibited great individual differences in realizing the voicing effects. This shows that L2 acquisition which has started at age 8 and above does not always lead to native-like L2 production.
The findings of the study thus support the sensitive period hypothesis, since the late Korean learners of English who were in the final stage of L2 acquisition produced the vowels in a nonnative-like manner. The results also suggest that there might be different sensitive periods depending on the L2 aspects under examination.
Issue Date:1994
Description:194 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9503235
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1994

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