5dez 2022
06:30 UTC

Your /p/ reveals your priorities if you are bilingual

There are several articulatory parameters that have a distinct difference in Russian and English. The dynamics of a language shift can be estimated by comparing their values against the monolingual ones. One of them that is distinct and measurable is Voice Onset Time (VOT). It has been studied at either from the phonetic side accounting mostly to its acoustic features (Dmitrieva et al. 2020; Ringen & Kulikov 2012) or in the speech of heritage Russian speakers or
balanced bilinguals (Nagy & Kochetov 2013). Yet the current study is to describe VOT after voiceless plosive consonants in Late Russian English bilinguals.
Firstly, 13 Russian native speakers who had been living in English-speaking countries for at least 6 months were interviewed both in Russian and in English. In every interview consonants /p/, /t/, /k/ were measured 15 times each, overall providing 1170 tokens. Then the tokens are analyzed against evaluation of VOT in monolingual Russian (Ringen & Kulikov 2012) and English (Rae 2018).
It was found out that VOT in Russian and English speech of the participants had undergone convergence in both languages yet not symmetrically. In English /t/ and /k/ mean values are lower than the ones of monolingual speakers which can be explained by the influence of L1. Yet on average VOT for /p/ is slightly above the usual one. Generally speaking, English VOT somewhat showed the influence of Russian articulatory habits. In Russian the changes were more prominent. All the considered sounds had a longer VOT than in Russian monolingual speakers.
VOT of /p/ is twice higher than for standard Russian, for /t/ it is more than 1.5 times higher, /k/ does not share the extent of deviation but still surpasses the average for people not exposed to English.
The convergence of both languages in VOT was found to be asymmetrical. However, the changes in speakers’ L1 under the influence of L2 are much more pronounced. It can be inferred that trying to shift into English language environment and not being exposed to Russian the late bilinguals make more attempt to follow English articulatory norms.