Temporal versus spectral cues in L2 perception of vowels.

A study with Polish and Croatian learners of English



perceptual cues, vowel perception, tenseness contrast in vowels, L2 phonological acquisition


This paper reports results of an AXB perceptual test investigating participants’ reliance on quality and/or duration cues in perception of English tense-lax distinction in L2 Polish and Croatian learners. Croatian participants, who have phonemic vowel length distinction in their L1, rely mainly on duration as a cue in categorization. In contrast, Polish learners rely predominantly on quality in both front and back vowels, although there is no quality contrast in back vowels in Polish that would be parallel to the tenseness contrast in English. The findings do not contradict Bohn’s Desensitization Hypothesis as long as one assumes that it is contrasts and not phonemes (categories) that trigger desensitization and that L1 dominant perceptual strategies may be generalized to be used for categorization of L2 categories that have no obvious counterparts in L1. We have found that learners’ strategies evolve with level of proficiency. Learners improve in the use of the dominant cues. They also improve on the contribution of cues, that is, they achieve a more native-like reliance on spectral cues. No support was found for Escudero’s (2000) hypothesis that all L2 learners first go through a phase of overreliance on durational cues irrespective of the phonemic contrasts of L1.



How to Cite

Ćavar, M., E. Rudman, and A. Oštarić. “Temporal Versus Spectral Cues in L2 Perception of vowels.: A Study With Polish and Croatian Learners of English”. Journal of Slavic Linguistics, vol. 30, no. 1, Dec. 2022, https://ojs.ung.si/index.php/JSL/article/view/77.