Presentation on theme: "Joseph Conrad phenomenon reconsidered"— Presentation transcript:
1 Joseph Conrad phenomenon reconsidered Doc. PhDr. Magdaléna Bilá, PhD.Department of English Language & Literature, Faculty of Arts, the University of Prešov
2 Joseph Conrad phenomenon reconsidered Outline of the lecture:The concept of foreign accent:- production based and perceptual-“Joseph Conrad phenomenon”Acquisition of second language phonology (differences between early/infant and late/adult learners):- The “Doom Hypothesis”Further research into acquisition of second language phonology:- The “Full Access Hypothesis”Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual development, plasticityRecent research into the area
3 Foreign accent: production-based and perceptual, “Joseph Conrad phenomenon” Foreign accents – “relate to … national groups speaking the same language” (Major, 2001).“Foreign accent - the inability of non-native language users to produce the target language with the phonetic accuracy required for acceptance by native speakers as native speech” (Major, 2001)
4 Foreign accent: production-based and perceptual, “Joseph Conrad phenomenon” The lack of ability in late/adult learners to achieve target like proficiency in pronunciation in an L2 has been labeled as the ‘Joseph Conrad phenomenon’ by Scovel.
5 Foreign accent: production-based and perceptual, “Joseph Conrad phenomenon” Perceptual foreign accent (Strange, 1995; McAllister, 1997): “Difficulty with which adult listeners perceive the majority of phonetic contrasts that are not functional in their L1”.L2 users’ difficulties in deciphering L2 speech (Garnes and Bond, In: Celce-Murcia et al, 1996: ):lack of background knowledge (including cultural gaps);lack of knowledge of the L2 phonology, tendency to transfer the rules and features of L1 to L2;incomplete knowledge of L2 grammar and vocabulary.
6 Neurolinguistic research and Speech research. Acquisition of second language phonology (differences between early/infant and late/adult learners): The “Doom Hypothesis”Flege (Plasticity in Speech Perception, 2005): The “Doom Hypothesis”: late/adult learners are unable to acquire the phonology of a new language in a native-like manner.3 sources (Flege, PSP, 2005):Linguistic research;Neurolinguistic research andSpeech research.
7 Acquisition of second language phonology (differences between early/infant and late/adult learners): The “Doom Hypothesis”A/ Linguistic research: phonological grid (Trubetzkoy): L2 phonemes perceived as phonemes of L1; phonemic features not used contrastively in learners’ L1 are difficult or impossible to perceive, to learn and to produce;(Flege, 2005)
8 Acquisition of second language phonology (differences between early/infant and late/adult learners): The “Doom Hypothesis” (Flege, 2005)B/ neurolinguistic research:Critical Period Hypothesis: Lenneberg (1969), an early advocate: two hypotheses combined:i/ Chomsky’s LAD Hypothesis (language acquisition device, i.e. a species specific innate linguistic capacity supposed to weaken progressively with the onset of puberty)ii/ and Penfield’s concept of cerebral dominance (lateralization, i.e. assigning of certain functions to the different hemispheres of the brain).
9 Acquisition of second language phonology (differences between early/infant and late/adult learners): The “Doom Hypothesis”The underlying idea of the CPH: after lateralization of speech centers in the brain is complete, the ability to learn L2, especially L2 phonology, diminishes.Critical Period - "a biologically determined period of life during which maximal conditions for language acquisition exist" (Celce - Murcia, Brinton and Goodwin, 1996, p. 15). No consensus among researchers in terms of delimiting it.
10 Acquisition of second language phonology (differences between early/infant and late/adult learners): The “Doom Hypothesis”Other possible explanation: derives from neurology: adults are much less successful in L2 speech learning because of loss or atrophy of neural “plasticity” of brain (i.e. its ability to change and develop new phonetic categories).(Flege, 2005)
11 Acquisition of second language phonology (differences between early/infant and late/adult learners): The “Doom Hypothesis”C/ Speech research studies: perceptual attunement to L1 during infancy and childhood. An individual who has become perceptually attuned to their L1:- incapable of perceiving L1-L2 differences;- incapable of developing long-term memory representations for L2 sounds.(Flege, 2005)
12 Total number of pauses; Frequency of pauses; Distribution of pauses; Bilá – Džambová, 2009: study on accented speech: pauses and emphasis (1/0475/08 Vega project)Differences between L1 and L2 speakers (teacher trainees – started learning their L2 after puberty) of English and German:Total number of pauses;Frequency of pauses;Distribution of pauses;Function of pauses;Inapt emphasis and in L2 subjects´ productionsMore diversity in L2 subjects´productions.
13 Further research into acquisition of second language phonology: The “Full Access Hypothesis” Further research: early/infant – late/adult learners differences: failed to be satisfactorily explained as arising solely from maturational constraints;and some research studies reported native-like mastery in L2 in late/adult learners:MAJOR, R.: A Model for Interlanguage Phonology. In: Interlanguage Phonology: The Acquisition of a Second Language Sound System. Eds. G. Ioup and S. H. Weinberger. New York: Newbury House, 1987, p :Salisbury (1962) and Sorensen (1967) report on some native communities (in Papua New Guinea and Northwest Amazon): multilingualism is common there since it is a desired and necessary skill and members of communities often learn other languages as adults and reportedly achieve target like pronunciation.
14 Further research into acquisition of second language phonology: The “Full Access Hypothesis” NEUFELD, G. G.: On the Acquisition of Prosodic and Articulatory Features in Adult Language Learning. In: Interlanguage Phonology: The Acquisition of a Second Language Sound System. Eds. G. Ioup and S. H. Weinberger. New York: Newbury House, 1987, p :A program for 3 groups of English speaking subjects to learn Japanese, Chinese or Eskimo. Results: out of the 20 adult subjects (8 males and 12 females), 9: ratings within the range of ratings usually obtained by L1 speakers; 6: qualified as near native like speakers and 5 performed in the manner one would normally expect after such a short period of instruction.
15 Further research into acquisition of second language phonology: The “Full Access Hypothesis” Bongaerts, van Summeren, Planken and Schils (1997): Age and ultimate Attainment in the Pronunciation of a Foreign Language. In: Studies in Second Language Acquisition, vol. 19, 1997, no. 4, ppExtremely successful speakers of English (L1: Dutch): contributing factors: learner characteristics or training environment.
16 Further research into acquisition of second language phonology: The “Full Access Hypothesis” Purely biological factors may not be sufficient to account for adult performance in L2 acquisition:Neufeld (1987): the CPH does not clarify why some adults are capable of achieving (relatively) native like proficiency;Neufeld (1987): the differences between adults and children: psychological factors and learner characteristics: due to affective factors (psychological disposition toward the target language and its culture) and language learning strategies.Bongaerts: learner characteristics and learning environment – favorable factors in enhancing native-like proficiency in pronunciation.
17 Further research into acquisition of second language phonology: The “Full Access Hypothesis” Research studies into the perception of foreign-accented speech reveal that adults retain some ability to perceive non-native contrasts, store them in memory and can even reproduce them (after a period of exposure).PSP (2005)
18 Further research into acquisition of second language phonology: The “Full Access Hypothesis” Flege (1984; In: Flege, PSP 2005):Subjects: monolingual L1 English speaking adults;Stimuli: in pairs (one uttered by a native English speaker and one by a native French speaker). Listeners’ task: choose “foreign” speaker. The results: native English adults could spot within-category differences.Flege & Hammond : Non-distinctive phonetic differences between language varieties. Studies in Second Lang. Acquis. 5, ; In: Flege, PSP 2005):Subjects: 1st year college students attending English classes taught by Spanish accented English teachers; production task: imitate Spanish accented speech (acoustic analysis proved they could spot between category differences).
19 Full Access Hypothesis “the processes and devices that control successful L1 speech acquisition—including the ability to develop new phonetic categories— remain intact across the life span” (Flege, PSP 2005)- brain retains its plasticity, i.e. ability to change even at adult age
20 Current theory of L2 perception, phonological development, plasticity Researchers at the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) presented (June 2003) the results of their brain imaging studies and clinical experiments that reveal how the L1 we acquire distorts the perception of any subsequent L2 sound system.Researchers at Boston University (Guenther): a neural network model: how phonetic categories develop in cortex: After neurons correctly distinguish the phonemes of a certain language, they reorganize and become sensitive only to between category differences, i.e. contrasts that are functional in the language acquired.The capacity of cortex to discriminate within category differences (non-functional contrasts) diminishes.
21 Current theory of L2 perception, phonological development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perceptionIverson et al. at UCL (2005): “acquiring one's native language phoneme categories ALTERS PERCEPTION so that individuals become more sensitive to between- than within-category differences for L1 phonemes; i.e. human auditory system gets tuned up to be especially sensitive to the details critical in our L1”.When trying to learn another language, those tunings may prove to be inappropriate and interfere with one’s ability to learn new categories – “Joseph Conrad phenomenon”.
22 Current theory of L2 perception, phonological development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perceptionPaul IVERSON, Patricia K. KUHL, Reiko AKAHANE-YAMADA, Eugen DIESCH, Yoh'ich TOHKURA, Andreas KETTERMANN, and Claudia SIEBERT: A perceptual interference account of acquisition difficulties for nonnative phonemes. In. Speech, Hearing and Language: work in progress, Volume 13: :
23 Current theory of L2 perception, phonological development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perceptionMaps of the human hearing apparatus: the input of synthesized sounds that extend over the continuum between the American English phonemes /ra/ and /la/;The English, German and Japanese subjects - instructed to identify each phoneme and to provide quality ratings.The outcome: a map (our experience with language distorts what we suppose we hear): different perceptual patterns in Japanese listeners.
24 Paul IVERSON, Patricia K Paul IVERSON, Patricia K. KUHL, Reiko AKAHANE-YAMADA, Eugen DIESCH, Yoh'ich TOHKURA, Andreas KETTERMANN, and Claudia SIEBERT: A perceptual interference account of acquisition difficulties for nonnative phonemes. In. Speech, Hearing and Language: work in progress, Volume 13: :
25 Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)Infants: born with the capability of learning any language; language general pattern of perception; due to exposure to speech during childhood:changes in perceptual processing:These changes interfere with the acquisition of L2:the L2 speech: difficult to segment into words and phonemes,different phonemes in the second language - sound as if they are the same as L1 phonemes.Inappropriate perceptual processing: second language production affected: the motor articulations of L2 difficult to reproduce.
26 Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)What is the core of the transition from a language-general to a language-specific pattern of perception?Early research: newborn infants are innately endowed with a universal set of phonetic feature detectorsDue to maturation and lack of use: atrophy - adults eventually develop language specific phonetic feature detectors.This early conception of perceptual development - false:Infants’ perceptual abilities: auditory processing, not innate linguistic structures;Adults: retain the ability to detect some non-native phonemes to which they have had little exposure, and lose the ability to distinguish some non-native phonemes to which they have been exposed in the allophonic variation of their native language (Example: r/l differences in Japanese and Chinese speakers).
27 Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)The initial perceptual abilities of infants ARE ACTIVELY CHANGED BY LANGUAGE EXPOSURE:Their ability to differentiate within-category differences for L1 phonemes diminishes.
28 Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)Which levels of processing are changed by language exposure during infant L1 acquisition?Iverson (2005): More recent evidence: language exposure may AFFECT AUDITORY PROCESSING.These perceptual changes: prior to the recognition or categorization of speech in terms of higher level linguistic units.
29 Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)Kuhl’s hypothesis (1998; 2000): the CP for language acquisition results more from the interference of PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE than from AGE.Adults: NEURALLY COMMITTED (Kuhl, 2000) to a particular network structure (underlying phonological representation – cortical representations) for decoding language, more due to this type of perceptual interference than to any maturational constraints.
30 Current theory of L2 perception, phonological development, plasticity Current theory of L2 perceptionTHE DECLINE IN SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION ABILITIES FROM CHILDHOOD THROUGH PUBERTYA PROGRESSIVELY STRONGER NEURAL COMMITTMENT TO ONE'S NATIVE LANGUAGE (Kuhl, 2000).
31 Acoustic distribution Even though an adult learning a second language could be exposed to the same ACOUSTIC DISTRIBUTION of speech sounds as an infant learning the same language, the AUDITORY DISTRIBUTION of those sounds would be different for an adult due to prior perceptual changes.Acoustic distributionAuditory distribution inan infantAuditory distribution inan adult (Joseph Conrad)
32 Current view of phonological learning (McAllister, 1997: 206): THE CURRENT VIEW OF L2 PHONOLOGICAL LEARNING:“THE KEY TO THE MASTERY OF L2 SPEECH IS THE SUCCESSFUL RESTRUCTURING OF THE L1 CATEGORICAL SYSTEM AND THE RESULTING PERCEPTUAL RE-CATEGORIZATION OF THE ARRANGEMENT OF ACOUSTIC INPUT STIMULI THAT FIT THE PHONETIC CATEGORIES OF THE TARGET LANGUAGE”.
33 Current view of phonological learning L2 learners:Change their auditory processing of L2 speech(= perceptual re-categorization);Build new underlying categories (cortical representations) for L2 sounds, i.e. a new network structure (= restructuring of L1 categorical system).
34 Recent research into the area Ongoing discussion:Which linguistic, psychological and social factors influence the success or failure of an L2 learner in this restructuring process?What are the causes of inter-subject variability ?(see also Flege, PSP 2005).
35 Recent research into the area The effect of a number of language and learner variables of the perception of non-native phonemic contrasts:the learner’s length of exposure to L2initial age of acquisition (AOA)degree of ongoing use of L1inherent ‘skill’ in language acquisitionthe phonological status of L2 sounds in the learner’s L1 (e.g., Best, 2001)the inherent acoustic salience of L2 sounds, (Ortega-Llebaria, Faulkner & Hazan, PSP: 2005).Learner variables: cross-language research has emphasized the initial age of L2 acquisition and amount of exposure to L2 as determining factors in the ability to perceive and produce a foreign language (B. G. Evans and P. Iverson (UCL): Plasticity in speech production and perception: A study of accent change in young adults (PSP 2005) Speech, Hearing and Language: work in progress. Volume 14, 2002, pp.18-38).
36 Bilá, 2005: Study on perception of impoverished reduced input through ‘gated speech’ Shockey (2002): A natural speech recording in which the time-domain waveform is ‘gated’ so that only a fraction of 50 ms of the signal is heard by the listeners, the duration of this gated fraction is progressively increased to a point at which the signal is likely to be unfailingly identified by L1 listeners.The presented graph illustrates the statistical analysis (correspondence analysis) showing the relationship between the AOA (age at which the subjects -1st year ELT trainees started learning their L2 – English) and the number of words they identified in the last gate (total number of words: 10).
37 Bilá, 2005: Study on perception of impoverished reduced input through ‘gated speech’ The subjects who started to learn L2 at an earlier age performed better.Impossible to interpret: 3 (10-11 yrs): explanation: may have studied English at secondary schools as false beginners (questionnaire)
38 Bilá, 2005: Study on perception of impoverished reduced input through ‘gated speech’ Age of acquisition and perceptual performance2 (6-9 yrs): words (10-11 yrs): impossible to interpret (12-15 yrs): 4-5 words
39 Bilá, 2005: Study on perception of impoverished reduced input through ‘gated speech’ The presented graph illustrates the statistical analysis (correspondence analysis) showing the relationship between the LOR (length of residence in an L2 country) and the number of words the subjects identified in the last gate (total number of words: 10).The subjects who experienced a prolonged stay in an L2 country performed better.
40 Recent research into the area Bilá, 2005: 3 - several months: 8-10 words4 – a year: 0-3 or 7-9 words5 – several years: 8-10 words.
41 Recent research into the area: PSP 2005 THE STUDIES PRESENTED AT PSP workshop (2005):THE ADULT PERCEPTUAL SYSTEM MAY BE MORE PLASTIC THAN FORMERLY THOUGHT: even adults can build new cortical representations.FURTHER INSIGHT INTO:A/ THE EFFECT OF SOME LINGUISTIC, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL FACTORS ON ACQUISITION OF L2 PHONOLOGY ANDB/ POSSIBLE CAUSES OF INTERSUBJECT VARIABILITY.
42 Recent research: PSP 2005Patricia K. Kuhl University of Washington, Barbara Conboy University of Washington: Infants' brain and behavioral responses to speech: Implications for the Critical Period.Results: (a) a negative correlation between infants' early native versus nonnative phonetic discrimination skills, and (b) that native- and nonnative-phonetic discrimination skills at 7.5 months differentially predict future language ability.Better native-language discrimination at 7.5 months predicts accelerated later language abilities, whereas better nonnative-language discrimination at 7.5 months predicts reduced later language abilities.
43 PSP 2005:B. G. Evans and P. Iverson (UCL): Plasticity in speech production and perception: A study of accent change in young adults. In: Speech, Hearing and Language: work in progress. Volume 14, 2002, pp.18-38; In: PSP 2005: 71.Subjects changed their spoken accent after experience of attending university. Changes: linked to exposure and to sociolinguistic factors (motivation to fit in with their university community).Implications for cross-language research: the age and amount of exposure as determining factors in the ability to perceive and produce a foreign language (Flege et al., 1999).But losing one’s accent may also be affected by one’s willingness to be identified as a member of the same culture as a native speaker of that language.
44 Recent research into the area: PSP 2005 Lengthy periods of auditory training,as long as appropriate methods are used: identification tasks with feedback;use of a diversity of materials from multiple speakers.Engagement with the training task - critically important (providing the maximum challenge for a given individual and targeting that challenge towards specific tasks).
45 Recent research: PSP 2005Much inter-subject variability in L2 learners, especially late learners (e.g., Hazan et al. 2002); many different explanations offered but poorly understood.What causes variation in individual performance?Auditory acuity, language learning aptitude,phonological short-term memory,identification with L2 culture, native speaker input, total input,musical ability, bilingual balance, language dominance,amount of L1 use, gender, L1, anxiety, integrative motivation,instrumental motivation, strength of concern for pronunciation,introversion, age, mimicry ability
46 Recent research into the area: PSP 2005 Most inter-subject variability: due to variation in the quantity and/or quality of L2 input received: “If L2 learners strongly motivated to speak L2 well - receive much native-speaker input. Maybe what are thought of as “motivational” differences are really input differences” Flege (PSP 2005: 1-20).My comment: If L2 learners are strongly motivated to attain a good command of L2, they will seek to be exposed to L2 in question and, consequently, receive an abundance of native-speaker input and use it in a way (personal engagement) that will contribute to learning (intake).Bilinguals: reduced degree of L1 activation - reduced L1- L2 interference (Flege, PSP 2005).
47 Most recent research into the area NeuroImage , 46 (2009) 226–240Neural signatures of phonetic learning in adulthood: A magnetoencephalography studyYang Zhang, Patricia K. Kuhl , Toshiaki Imada, Paul Iverson, John Pruitt , Erica B. Stevens , Masaki Kawakatsu, Yoh'ichi Tohkura, Iku Nemoto
48 Neural signatures of phonetic learning in adulthood: A magnetoencephalography study Underlying assumption: application of principles of L1 learning: IDS (infant directed speech or “motherese”)Use of magnetoencephalography (MEG) – brain images -- to study perceptual learningA training software program: based on the principles of infant phonetic learning (systematic acoustic exaggeration, multi-talker variability, visible articulation, and adaptive listening – immitation of motherese).
49 Recent researchThe program: intended to help Japanese listeners utilize an acoustic dimension relevant for phonemic categorization of /r–l/ in English (for Japanese subjects – allophones, i.e. within category differences with regard to their L2).Results: significant identification improvement over 12 hours of training and positive transfer of skills to novel stimuli.
50 Recent researchImportant outcome: not only focus on key features of the material but also to overcome neural commitment, i.e. prior learning.Therefore: important – development of methods.
51 ConclusionGood news: Biology (age) is not a destiny and given appropriate stimulus the brain can be retrained (Flege, 2005; Iverson et al., 2005, 2009) -How? Exposure/ manipulating the input by using the principles of L1 acquisition (exaggerated input, a variety of input, providing visible articulation cues), training: appropriate methods and stimuli are used, personal engagement.
52 Conclusion“It is possible to teach the old Joseph Conrad new (pronunciation) tricks”.