Effects of Spanish use on the production of Catalan vowels by early Spanish-Catalan bilinguals

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This study examined the production of Catalan vowels by 82 adults who had begun using both Spanish (S) and Catalan (C) at school age but differed in their self-reported percentage of Catalan use (11%=MostlyS, 40%=S/C, 63%=C/S, 86%=MostlyC). Bark-normalized Euclidean distances between the vowels /i/-/e/, /u/-/o/, /e/-/ε/ and /o/-/ɔ/ were computed to estimate the magnitude of between-vowel production differences. The results revealed an effect of Catalan use: the more frequently Catalan was used, the more open and less fronted — and thus the less Spanish-like — were productions of Catalan /ε/ and /ɔ/. Euclidean distances between /e/-/ε/ were greater for the MostlyC group than for the MostlyS and S/C groups, also indicating an effect of Catalan use. These findings suggest that Catalan /e/ and /ε/ are produced less successfully by early learners of Catalan who continue using Spanish often despite the fact that the second language (either Catalan or Spanish) was acquired in early childhood.


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