Monday, February 11, 2013

Mark Amengual on Variation Within Bilingual Communities

The Spanish Department invites the College Community to attend a research talk by Professor Mark Amengual of the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Spanish Linguistics Search Candidate and his talk is entitled "Variation Within Bilingual Communities: Motivating Differences at the Individual and Dialectical Levels."


Previous work has suggested that SPanish-Catalan bilinguals in Barcelona have difficulties in perceiving and producing the Catlan-specific mid-vowel contrast in spite of early and extensive exposure to and everyday use of Catalan. The present project examines the production and perception of the Catalan mid-vowel contrasts by 80 early Spanish-Catalan bilinguals in Majorca. Production and perception data were collected in a picture-naming task, an identification task, AD discrimination task, and lexical decision task, showing that these bilinguals do product robust mid-vowel contrasts and perceive both phonetic categories despite the open vowels being unique to Catalan. The results differ from previous studies in Barcelona supporting an interaction between the phonological and lexical levels across the two languages of a bilingual individual, and highlight the importance of considering the sociolinguistic context (input, prestige, local identity) when describing the phonetic abilities of bilingual individuals.