You are what you eat phonetically
The following set of experiments tests whether linguistic experience plays a significant role in the perception of foreign vowels. Models of second language acquisition purport that a second language is perceived in direct relation to the native language and that specific predictions can be drawn regarding which contrasts will be most problematic for nonnative speakers. With this in mind, native Japanese and Korean speakers were tested on their discrimination and assimilation of English vowels. In Experiment 1, participants performed an assimilation task where they identified English vowels in terms of their native vowel categories. Further, listeners rated their vowel selections for category goodness. These data were then implemented in developing hypotheses as to possible discrimination outcomes for Experiment 2. Discrimination results confirmed predictions generated by the assimilation experiment but this held true only for inexperienced nonnative speakers of English.