This study examines the effects of experience in German on the categorical perception of German rounded vowels, namely /uː/, /ʊ/, /oː/, /ɔ/, /yː/, /ʏ/, /øː/, and /œ/, by native speakers of American English (AE). Of special interest is whether more experience in German leads to more accurate perception of German front rounded vowels, namely /yː/, /ʏ/, /øː/, and /œ/, which do not have correlates in American English and are well known to cause perceptual problems for native AE speakers (Strange, Bohn, Trent, & Nishi, 2004). Subjects in this study were students at Brigham Young University that were divided into 4 experimental groups: students at the end of first-semester German with no residency in a German-speaking country (101 group); students at the end of third-semester German with no residency (201 group); students in third-year or higher German courses with less than 4 months of residency (300+ group); students in third-year or higher courses with 16 or more months of residency (300+Resi group). A control group of native German speakers also participated. Subjects completed a forced-choice identification task in which they selected the German word they thought they heard. The results of the task indicate that experience in German did affect native AE-speaking subjects' overall identification accuracy of German rounded vowels. In particular, a statistically significant difference was found between the 101 and 300+Resi groups for all German rounded vowels except /uː/ and /ʊ//, suggesting that experience significantly affected AE subjects' perception of all of these vowels except /uː/ and /ʊ/.
College and Department
Humanities; Center for Language Studies
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
York, Bradley J., "The Effects of Experience on the Perception of German Rounded Vowels by Native Speakers of American English" (2008). All Theses and Dissertations. 1571.
German, vowels, perception, American English, experience, SLA