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Joseph Conrad phenomenon reconsidered

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Title: Joseph Conrad phenomenon reconsidered


1
Joseph Conrad phenomenon reconsidered
  • Doc. PhDr. Magdaléna Bilá, PhD.
  • Department of English Language Literature,
    Faculty of Arts, the University of Prešov

2
Joseph Conrad phenomenon reconsidered
  • Outline of the lecture
  • The concept of foreign accent
  • - production based and perceptual
  • -Joseph Conrad phenomenon
  • Acquisition of second language phonology
    (differences between early/infant and late/adult
    learners)
  • - The Doom Hypothesis
  • Further research into acquisition of second
    language phonology
  • - The Full Access Hypothesis
  • Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual
    development, plasticity
  • Recent research into the area

3
Foreign accent production-based and perceptual,
Joseph Conrad phenomenon
  • Foreign accents relate to national groups
    speaking the same language (Major, 2001).
  • Foreign accent - the inability of non-native
    language users to produce the target language
    with the phonetic accuracy required for
    acceptance by native speakers as native speech
    (Major, 2001)

4
Foreign accent production-based and perceptual,
Joseph Conrad phenomenon
  • The lack of ability in late/adult learners to
    achieve target like proficiency in pronunciation
    in an L2 has been labeled as the Joseph Conrad
    phenomenon by Scovel.

5
Foreign accent production-based and perceptual,
Joseph Conrad phenomenon
  • Perceptual foreign accent (Strange, 1995
    McAllister, 1997) Difficulty with which adult
    listeners perceive the majority of phonetic
    contrasts that are not functional in their L1.
  • L2 users difficulties in deciphering L2 speech
    (Garnes and Bond, In Celce-Murcia et al, 1996
    222-223)
  • lack of background knowledge (including cultural
    gaps)
  • lack of knowledge of the L2 phonology, tendency
    to transfer the rules and features of L1 to L2
  • incomplete knowledge of L2 grammar and
    vocabulary.

6
Acquisition of second language phonology
(differences between early/infant and late/adult
learners) The Doom Hypothesis
  • Flege (Plasticity in Speech Perception, 2005)
    The Doom Hypothesis late/adult learners are
    unable to acquire the phonology of a new language
    in a native-like manner.
  • 3 sources (Flege, PSP, 2005)
  • Linguistic research
  • Neurolinguistic research and
  • Speech research.

7
Acquisition of second language phonology
(differences between early/infant and late/adult
learners) The Doom Hypothesis
  • A/ Linguistic research phonological grid
    (Trubetzkoy) L2 phonemes perceived as phonemes
    of L1 phonemic features not used contrastively
    in learners L1 are difficult or impossible to
    perceive, to learn and to produce
  • (Flege, 2005)

8
Acquisition of second language phonology
(differences between early/infant and late/adult
learners) The Doom Hypothesis (Flege, 2005)
  • B/ neurolinguistic research
  • Critical Period Hypothesis Lenneberg (1969), an
    early advocate two hypotheses combined
  • i/ Chomskys LAD Hypothesis (language acquisition
    device, i.e. a species specific innate linguistic
    capacity supposed to weaken progressively with
    the onset of puberty)
  • ii/ and Penfields concept of cerebral dominance
    (lateralization, i.e. assigning of certain
    functions to the different hemispheres of the
    brain).

9
Acquisition of second language phonology
(differences between early/infant and late/adult
learners) The Doom Hypothesis
  • The underlying idea of the CPH after
    lateralization of speech centers in the brain is
    complete, the ability to learn L2, especially L2
    phonology, diminishes.
  • Critical Period - "a biologically determined
    period of life during which maximal conditions
    for language acquisition exist" (Celce - Murcia,
    Brinton and Goodwin, 1996, p. 15). No consensus
    among researchers in terms of delimiting it.

10
Acquisition of second language phonology
(differences between early/infant and late/adult
learners) The Doom Hypothesis
  • Other possible explanation derives from
    neurology adults are much less successful in L2
    speech learning because of loss or atrophy of
    neural plasticity of brain (i.e. its ability to
    change and develop new phonetic categories).
  • (Flege, 2005)

11
Acquisition of second language phonology
(differences between early/infant and late/adult
learners) The Doom Hypothesis
  • C/ Speech research studies perceptual attunement
    to L1 during infancy and childhood. An individual
    who has become perceptually attuned to their L1
  • - incapable of perceiving L1-L2 differences
  • - incapable of developing long-term memory
    representations for L2 sounds.
  • (Flege, 2005)

12
Bilá Džambová, 2009 study on accented speech
pauses and emphasis (1/0475/08 Vega project)
  • Differences between L1 and L2 speakers (teacher
    trainees started learning their L2 after
    puberty) of English and German
  • Total number of pauses
  • Frequency of pauses
  • Distribution of pauses
  • Function of pauses
  • Inapt emphasis and in L2 subjects productions
  • More diversity in L2 subjectsproductions.

13
Further research into acquisition of second
language phonology The Full Access Hypothesis
  • Further research early/infant late/adult
    learners differences failed to be satisfactorily
    explained as arising solely from maturational
    constraints
  • and some research studies reported native-like
    mastery in L2 in late/adult learners
  • MAJOR, R. A Model for Interlanguage Phonology.
    In Interlanguage Phonology The Acquisition of a
    Second Language Sound System. Eds. G. Ioup and S.
    H. Weinberger. New York Newbury House, 1987, p.
    101-124
  • Salisbury (1962) and Sorensen (1967) report
    on some native communities (in Papua New Guinea
    and Northwest Amazon) multilingualism is common
    there since it is a desired and necessary skill
    and members of communities often learn other
    languages as adults and reportedly achieve target
    like pronunciation.

14
Further research into acquisition of second
language phonology The Full Access Hypothesis
  • NEUFELD, G. G. On the Acquisition of Prosodic
    and Articulatory Features in Adult Language
    Learning. In Interlanguage Phonology The
    Acquisition of a Second Language Sound System.
    Eds. G. Ioup and S. H. Weinberger. New York
    Newbury House, 1987, p. 321-332.
  • A program for 3 groups of English speaking
    subjects to learn Japanese, Chinese or Eskimo.
    Results out of the 20 adult subjects (8 males
    and 12 females), 9 ratings within the range of
    ratings usually obtained by L1 speakers 6
    qualified as near native like speakers and 5
    performed in the manner one would normally expect
    after such a short period of instruction.

15
Further research into acquisition of second
language phonology The Full Access Hypothesis
  • Bongaerts, van Summeren, Planken and Schils
    (1997) Age and ultimate Attainment in the
    Pronunciation of a Foreign Language. In Studies
    in Second Language Acquisition, vol. 19, 1997,
    no. 4, pp. 447-465.
  • Extremely successful speakers of English (L1
    Dutch) contributing factors learner
    characteristics or training environment.

16
Further research into acquisition of second
language phonology The Full Access Hypothesis
  • Purely biological factors may not be
    sufficient to account for adult performance in L2
    acquisition
  • Neufeld (1987) the CPH does not clarify why some
    adults are capable of achieving (relatively)
    native like proficiency
  • Neufeld (1987) the differences between adults
    and children psychological factors and learner
    characteristics due to affective factors
    (psychological disposition toward the target
    language and its culture) and language learning
    strategies.
  • Bongaerts learner characteristics and learning
    environment favorable factors in enhancing
    native-like proficiency in pronunciation.

17
Further research into acquisition of second
language phonology The Full Access Hypothesis
  • Research studies into the perception of
    foreign-accented speech reveal that adults retain
    some ability to perceive non-native contrasts,
    store them in memory and can even reproduce them
    (after a period of exposure).
  • PSP (2005)

18
Further research into acquisition of second
language phonology The Full Access Hypothesis
  • Flege (1984 In Flege, PSP 2005)
  • Subjects monolingual L1 English speaking
    adults
  • Stimuli in pairs (one uttered by a native
    English speaker and one by a native French
    speaker). Listeners task choose foreign
    speaker. The results native English adults could
    spot within-category differences.
  • Flege Hammond Non-distinctive phonetic
    differences between language varieties. Studies
    in Second Lang. Acquis. 5, 1-17. 1982 In Flege,
    PSP 2005)
  • Subjects 1st year college students attending
    English classes taught by Spanish accented
    English teachers production task imitate
    Spanish accented speech (acoustic analysis proved
    they could spot between category differences).

19
Full Access Hypothesis
  • Full Access Hypothesis
  • the processes and devices that control
    successful L1 speech acquisitionincluding the
    ability to develop new phonetic categories
    remain intact across the life span (Flege, PSP
    2005)- brain retains its plasticity, i.e. ability
    to change even at adult age

20
Current theory of L2 perception, phonological
development, plasticity
  • Researchers at the Acoustical Society of America
    (ASA) presented (June 2003) the results of their
    brain imaging studies and clinical experiments
    that reveal how the L1 we acquire distorts the
    perception of any subsequent L2 sound system.
  • Researchers at Boston University (Guenther) a
    neural network model how phonetic categories
    develop in cortex After neurons correctly
    distinguish the phonemes of a certain language,
    they reorganize and become sensitive only to
    between category differences, i.e. contrasts that
    are functional in the language acquired.
  • The capacity of cortex to discriminate within
    category differences (non-functional contrasts)
    diminishes.

21
Current theory of L2 perception, phonological
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception
  • Iverson et al. at UCL (2005) acquiring one's
    native language phoneme categories ALTERS
    PERCEPTION so that individuals become more
    sensitive to between- than within-category
    differences for L1 phonemes i.e. human auditory
    system gets tuned up to be especially sensitive
    to the details critical in our L1.
  • When trying to learn another language, those
    tunings may prove to be inappropriate and
    interfere with ones ability to learn new
    categories Joseph Conrad phenomenon.

22
Current theory of L2 perception, phonological
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception
  • Paul IVERSON, Patricia K. KUHL, Reiko
    AKAHANE-YAMADA, Eugen DIESCH, Yoh'ich TOHKURA,
    Andreas KETTERMANN, and Claudia SIEBERT A
    perceptual interference account of acquisition
    difficulties for nonnative phonemes. In. Speech,
    Hearing and Language work in progress, Volume
    13 107-118

23
Current theory of L2 perception, phonological
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception
  • Maps of the human hearing apparatus the input of
    synthesized sounds that extend over the continuum
    between the American English phonemes /ra/ and
    /la/
  • The English, German and Japanese subjects -
    instructed to identify each phoneme and to
    provide quality ratings.
  • The outcome a map (our experience with language
    distorts what we suppose we hear) different
    perceptual patterns in Japanese listeners.

24
Paul IVERSON, Patricia K. KUHL, Reiko
AKAHANE-YAMADA, Eugen DIESCH, Yoh'ich TOHKURA,
Andreas KETTERMANN, and Claudia SIEBERT A
perceptual interference account of acquisition
difficulties for nonnative phonemes. In. Speech,
Hearing and Language work in progress, Volume
13 107-118
25
Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)
  • Infants born with the capability of learning any
    language language general pattern of perception
    due to exposure to speech during childhood
  • changes in perceptual processing
  • These changes interfere with the acquisition of
    L2
  • the L2 speech difficult to segment into words
    and phonemes,
  • different phonemes in the second language - sound
    as if they are the same as L1 phonemes.
  • Inappropriate perceptual processing second
    language production affected the motor
    articulations of L2 difficult to reproduce.

26
Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)
  • What is the core of the transition from a
    language-general to a language-specific pattern
    of perception?
  • Early research newborn infants are innately
    endowed with a universal set of phonetic feature
    detectors
  • Due to maturation and lack of use atrophy -
    adults eventually develop language specific
    phonetic feature detectors.
  • This early conception of perceptual
    development - false
  • Infants perceptual abilities auditory
    processing, not innate linguistic structures
  • Adults retain the ability to detect some
    non-native phonemes to which they have had little
    exposure, and lose the ability to distinguish
    some non-native phonemes to which they have been
    exposed in the allophonic variation of their
    native language (Example r/l differences in
    Japanese and Chinese speakers).

27
Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)
  • The initial perceptual abilities of infants ARE
    ACTIVELY CHANGED BY LANGUAGE EXPOSURE
  • Their ability to differentiate within-category
    differences for L1 phonemes diminishes.

28
Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)
  • Which levels of processing are changed by
    language exposure during infant L1 acquisition?
  • Iverson (2005) More recent evidence language
    exposure may AFFECT AUDITORY PROCESSING.
  • These perceptual changes prior to the
    recognition or categorization of speech in terms
    of higher level linguistic units.

29
Current theory of L2 perception, perceptual
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception (Iverson et al. and Kuhl)
  • Kuhls hypothesis (1998 2000) the CP for
    language acquisition results more from the
    interference of PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE than from
    AGE.
  • Adults NEURALLY COMMITTED (Kuhl, 2000) to a
    particular network structure (underlying
    phonological representation cortical
    representations) for decoding language, more due
    to this type of perceptual interference than to
    any maturational constraints.

30
Current theory of L2 perception, phonological
development, plasticity Current theory of L2
perception
  • THE DECLINE IN SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
    ABILITIES FROM CHILDHOOD THROUGH PUBERTY
  • A PROGRESSIVELY STRONGER NEURAL COMMITTMENT TO
    ONE'S NATIVE LANGUAGE (Kuhl, 2000).

31
Even though an adult learning a second language
could be exposed to the same ACOUSTIC
DISTRIBUTION of speech sounds as an infant
learning the same language, the AUDITORY
DISTRIBUTION of those sounds would be different
for an adult due to prior perceptual changes.
  • Acoustic distribution

Auditory distribution in an infant
Auditory distribution in an adult (Joseph Conrad)
32
Current view of phonological learning
  • (McAllister, 1997 206) THE CURRENT VIEW OF L2
    PHONOLOGICAL LEARNING
  • THE KEY TO THE MASTERY OF L2 SPEECH IS THE
    SUCCESSFUL RESTRUCTURING OF THE L1 CATEGORICAL
    SYSTEM AND THE RESULTING PERCEPTUAL
    RE-CATEGORIZATION OF THE ARRANGEMENT OF ACOUSTIC
    INPUT STIMULI THAT FIT THE PHONETIC CATEGORIES OF
    THE TARGET LANGUAGE.

33
Current view of phonological learning
  • L2 learners
  • Change their auditory processing of L2 speech
  • ( perceptual re-categorization)
  • Build new underlying categories (cortical
    representations) for L2 sounds, i.e. a new
    network structure ( restructuring of L1
    categorical system).

34
Recent research into the area
  • Ongoing discussion
  • Which linguistic, psychological and social
    factors influence the success or failure of an L2
    learner in this restructuring process?
  • What are the causes of inter-subject variability
    ?(see also Flege, PSP 2005).

35
Recent research into the area
  • The effect of a number of language and learner
    variables of the perception of non-native
    phonemic contrasts
  • the learners length of exposure to L2
  • initial age of acquisition (AOA)
  • degree of ongoing use of L1
  • inherent skill in language acquisition
  • the phonological status of L2 sounds in the
    learners L1 (e.g., Best, 2001)
  • the inherent acoustic salience of L2 sounds,
    (Ortega-Llebaria, Faulkner Hazan, PSP 2005).
  • Learner variables cross-language research has
    emphasized the initial age of L2 acquisition and
    amount of exposure to L2 as determining factors
    in the ability to perceive and produce a foreign
    language (B. G. Evans and P. Iverson (UCL)
    Plasticity in speech production and perception A
    study of accent change in young adults (PSP 2005)
    Speech, Hearing and Language work in progress.
    Volume 14, 2002, pp.18-38).

36
Bilá, 2005 Study on perception of impoverished
reduced input through gated speech
  • Shockey (2002) A natural speech recording in
    which the time-domain waveform is gated so that
    only a fraction of 50 ms of the signal is heard
    by the listeners, the duration of this gated
    fraction is progressively increased to a point at
    which the signal is likely to be unfailingly
    identified by L1 listeners.
  • The presented graph illustrates the statistical
    analysis (correspondence analysis) showing the
    relationship between the AOA (age at which the
    subjects -1st year ELT trainees started learning
    their L2 English) and the number of words they
    identified in the last gate (total number of
    words 10).

37
Bilá, 2005 Study on perception of impoverished
reduced input through gated speech
  • The subjects who started to learn L2 at an
    earlier age performed better.
  • Impossible to interpret 3 (10-11 yrs)
    explanation may have studied English at
    secondary schools as false beginners
    (questionnaire)

38
Bilá, 2005 Study on perception of impoverished
reduced input through gated speech
  • Age of acquisition and perceptual performance
  • 2 (6-9 yrs) 6-9 words 3
    (10-11 yrs) impossible to interpret 4
    (12-15 yrs) 4-5 words

39
Bilá, 2005 Study on perception of impoverished
reduced input through gated speech
  • The presented graph illustrates the statistical
    analysis (correspondence analysis) showing the
    relationship between the LOR (length of residence
    in an L2 country) and the number of words the
    subjects identified in the last gate (total
    number of words 10).
  • The subjects who experienced a prolonged stay in
    an L2 country performed better.

40
Recent research into the area
  • Bilá, 2005 3 - several months 8-10 words
  • 4 a year 0-3 or 7-9
    words
  • 5 several years 8-10
    words.

41
Recent research into the area PSP 2005
  • THE STUDIES PRESENTED AT PSP workshop (2005)
  • THE ADULT PERCEPTUAL SYSTEM MAY BE MORE PLASTIC
    THAN FORMERLY THOUGHT even adults can build new
    cortical representations.
  • FURTHER INSIGHT INTO
  • A/ THE EFFECT OF SOME LINGUISTIC,
    PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL FACTORS ON
    ACQUISITION OF L2 PHONOLOGY AND
  • B/ POSSIBLE CAUSES OF INTERSUBJECT VARIABILITY.

42
Recent research PSP 2005
  • Patricia K. Kuhl University of Washington,
    Barbara Conboy University of Washington Infants'
    brain and behavioral responses to speech
    Implications for the Critical Period.
  • Results (a) a negative correlation between
    infants' early native versus nonnative phonetic
    discrimination skills, and (b) that native- and
    nonnative-phonetic discrimination skills at 7.5
    months differentially predict future language
    ability.
  • Better native-language discrimination at 7.5
    months predicts accelerated later language
    abilities, whereas better nonnative-language
    discrimination at 7.5 months predicts reduced
    later language abilities.

43
PSP 2005B. G. Evans and P. Iverson (UCL)
Plasticity in speech production and perception A
study of accent change in young adults. In
Speech, Hearing and Language work in progress.
Volume 14, 2002, pp.18-38 In PSP 2005 71.
  • Subjects changed their spoken accent after
    experience of attending university. Changes
    linked to exposure and to sociolinguistic factors
    (motivation to fit in with their university
    community).
  • Implications for cross-language research the age
    and amount of exposure as determining factors in
    the ability to perceive and produce a foreign
    language (Flege et al., 1999).
  • But losing ones accent may also be affected by
    ones willingness to be identified as a member of
    the same culture as a native speaker of that
    language.

44
Recent research into the area PSP 2005
  • Lengthy periods of auditory training,
  • as long as appropriate methods are used
    identification tasks with feedback
  • use of a diversity of materials from multiple
    speakers.
  • Engagement with the training task - critically
    important (providing the maximum challenge for a
    given individual and targeting that challenge
    towards specific tasks).

45
Recent research PSP 2005
  • Much inter-subject variability in L2 learners,
    especially late learners (e.g., Hazan et al.
    2002) many different explanations offered but
    poorly understood.
  • What causes variation in individual performance?

Auditory acuity, language learning aptitude,
phonological short-term memory, identification
with L2 culture, native speaker input, total
input, musical ability, bilingual balance,
language dominance, amount of L1 use, gender,
L1, anxiety, integrative motivation,
instrumental motivation, strength of concern for
pronunciation, introversion, age, mimicry
ability
46
Recent research into the area PSP 2005
  • Most inter-subject variability due to variation
    in the quantity and/or quality of L2 input
    received If L2 learners strongly motivated to
    speak L2 well - receive much native-speaker
    input. Maybe what are thought of as
    motivational differences are really input
    differences Flege (PSP 2005 1-20).
  • My comment If L2 learners are strongly motivated
    to attain a good command of L2, they will seek to
    be exposed to L2 in question and, consequently,
    receive an abundance of native-speaker input and
    use it in a way (personal engagement) that will
    contribute to learning (intake).
  • Bilinguals reduced degree of L1 activation -
    reduced L1- L2 interference (Flege, PSP 2005).

47
Most recent research into the area
  • NeuroImage , 46 (2009) 226240
  • Neural signatures of phonetic learning in
    adulthood A magnetoencephalography study
  • Yang Zhang, Patricia K. Kuhl , Toshiaki Imada,
    Paul Iverson, John Pruitt , Erica B. Stevens ,
    Masaki Kawakatsu, Yoh'ichi Tohkura, Iku Nemoto

48
Neural signatures of phonetic learning in
adulthood A magnetoencephalography study
  • Underlying assumption application of principles
    of L1 learning IDS (infant directed speech or
    motherese)
  • Use of magnetoencephalography (MEG) brain
    images -- to study perceptual learning
  • A training software program based on the
    principles of infant phonetic learning
    (systematic acoustic exaggeration, multi-talker
    variability, visible articulation, and adaptive
    listening immitation of motherese).

49
Recent research
  • The program intended to help Japanese listeners
    utilize an acoustic dimension relevant for
    phonemic categorization of /rl/ in English (for
    Japanese subjects allophones, i.e. within
    category differences with regard to their L2).
  • Results significant identification improvement
    over 12 hours of training and positive transfer
    of skills to novel stimuli.

50
Recent research
  • Important outcome not only focus on key features
    of the material but also to overcome neural
    commitment, i.e. prior learning.
  • Therefore important development of methods.

51
Conclusion
  • Good news Biology (age) is not a destiny and
    given appropriate stimulus the brain can be
    retrained (Flege, 2005 Iverson et al., 2005,
    2009) -
  • How? Exposure/ manipulating the input by
    using the principles of L1 acquisition
    (exaggerated input, a variety of input, providing
    visible articulation cues), training appropriate
    methods and stimuli are used, personal
    engagement.

52
Conclusion
  • It is possible to teach the old Joseph Conrad
    new (pronunciation) tricks.
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