Postcolonial environment: influence of age of initial academic exposure to l2 on the perception of L1 accent
This paper examined influence of bilingual listeners’ age of initial academic exposure to L2, on perception of L1 accent. In addition, influence of stimulus novelty on perception of L1 accent was also explored. Twenty-four bilingual listeners, perceptually judged L1 accent of twenty bilingual speakers. The bilingual speakers produced four real-words and four novel-words. Bengali was the L1 and English was the L2 for the listeners, as well as for the speakers. Of the twenty-four bilingual listeners, twelve had early and twelve had late age of initial academic L2 exposure. Among the twenty bilingual speakers, ten had early and ten had late age of initial academic L2 exposure. Each listener judged L1 accent based on 320 tokens (8 words, 2 exemplars of each word, across 20 bilingual speakers). Results suggest, all bilingual listeners perceived productions of bilingual speakers with early age of academic L2 exposure as more similar to the native speaker of the target L1. Novelty of the stimuli influenced listeners’ perception of L1 accent; novel words were perceived as less accented than the real words. Interplay of sociolinguistic variables is discussed to suggest that only crosslinguistic transfer of linguistic constructs might not capture bilingual speakers’ perception of accent.
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