Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2215-1931
  • E-ISSN: 2215-194X
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This investigation compared adult sequential bilinguals and native speakers (NSs) with the intention of determining if bilinguals are an appropriate comparison group for second language (L2) learners in L2 phonetic research. To that end, 16 Spanish-English bilinguals were compared to 20 NSs of English on their perception and production of two English vowels. In perception, both groups had a similar category boundary and acoustic cue weighting. In production, both groups produced distinct vowels that were highly intelligible, although the bilinguals produced the phonemes closer together in the vowel space and had more variable performance than the NSs. The inspection of these two participant groups reveals that bilinguals have the ability to perceive and produce a difficult L2 phonemic contrast, with slight and inconsequential differences when compared to NSs. Thus, I argue that bilinguals who have acquired a target structure are an apt comparison group in L2 phonetic experiments.


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