Gender differences in VOT production of Arabic/English bilingual children

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This study examines Voice Onset Time (VOT) in six (three boys and three girls) pre-adolescent Arabic/English bilinguals. Both English and Arabic have a two-way voicing distinction: English contrasts short and long lag VOT while Arabic contrasts lead and short lag VOT. Due to exposure to languages with voicing contrasts, these children are expected to acquire two phonetic/phonological systems. Results indicate that the girls have higher VOT values for voiceless stops than boys. However, they have lower values for voiced stops. In addition, VOT mean values of Arabic and English for both groups were close to values produced by monolingual speakers. These findings show that children exhibit gender-linked differences in VOT patterns. These distribution patterns are primarily attributed to physiological factors such as the size and structure of the vocal tract for both sexes. It is also shown that bilingual children maintain two different phonetic/phonological systems for their languages.


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