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How code-switching affects VOT within sentences: an acoustic study

How code-switching affects VOT within sentences: an acoustic study
When: November 18, 2016
Where: Boston, Massachusetts

PIRE undergraduate fellow Delaney Wilson presented at the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society.

Studies examining voice onset time (VOT) in language-switching found that Spanish-English bilinguals have longer VOTs when naming isolated pictures, (Goldrick et al., 2014; Olson, 2013) indicating that switching impacts phonetic output. These studies all tested habitual code-switchers. To understand how this manifests in non-habitual code-switchers, we employed a sentence creation task focusing on word-initial /p/ and /t/ phonemes. Bilinguals produced sentences that switched from Spanish to English, from English to Spanish, or unilingual Spanish/English sentences. Critical target words appeared before or after the switch. English VOTs were longer than Spanish VOTs, in unilingual and code-switched sentences. VOTs in code-switched sentences and unilingual sentences were not statistically different, indicating that bilinguals maintain phonetic distinctions in code-switched sentences. This differs from the Goldrick at al. and Olson studies, and from spontaneous speech analyses (Arvaniti et al 2015; Fricke et al., 2015), suggesting that mechanisms of phonological convergence manifest differently in non-habitual code-switchers.