Bidirectional Influence on the VOT Production of Dutch Learners of English
Schagen, J. van
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Abstract This study investigated the influence of L2 English on L1 Dutch and vice versa. It examined the pronunciation of plosives in the L1 and the L2 and compared the results of more proficient L2 English speakers with less proficient L2 speakers. The participants were students from Utrecht University. Half of the participants were students of English and half of them were not. The focus of this paper was placed on the voice onset time (VOT) of word and phrase initial voiced and voiceless plosives that occur in both languages: /b, p, d, t/. Based on previous research, the general hypotheses were that more proficient speakers were able to differentiate more between the two languages and thus produced the English plosives more like native speakers of English (H1) and the Dutch plosives more like native speakers of Dutch (H2). The proficient speakers pronounced more English voiced plosives with a post-burst VOT (as previous studies indicated was more like native speakers of English), but the duration of their pre-burst VOTs was longer, indicating L1 Dutch influence on L2 English. This contradicted H1. The proficient speakers produced Dutch voiceless plosives with shorter post-burst VOTs, confirming H2 for voiceless plosives. The general results showed that voiceless plosives followed by a high vowel have longer post-burst VOTs and voiceless alveolars have longer post-burst VOTs than voiceless bilabials. This confirmed H3.