Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

Advisor

Valerie Shafer

Committee Members

Douglas Whalen

Erika Levy

Subject Categories

Speech and Hearing Science | Speech Pathology and Audiology

Keywords

Speech perception, non-native, Production, Hindi

Abstract

This dissertation examines the ability of Hindi speakers to identify, discriminate and produce two English phonemes /v/ and /w/ which are difficult for Hindi speakers to distinguish. In Hindi, /v/ and /w/ are used interchangeably. This pattern of use has transferred to Indian English, resulting in English /v/ and /w/ words showing variable pronunciations (e.g., “whale” or “vale” for the word “whale”). Hindi speakers were asked to identify, discriminate and produce tokens of /v/ and /w/. This study also examined whether experience with American English, related to the length of residence (LOR) in the US affects Hindi listeners’ perception and production of English /v/ and /w/. Two groups of Hindi speakers were included in this study; Hindi speakers who have been in the US for more than 5 years (Hindi US) and Hindi speakers who live in India and use English as their second language (Hindi Ind). The findings demonstrated that the English /v/-/w/ is a difficult contrast for Hindi speakers to perceive and produce. Hindi speakers (Hindi US and Hindi Ind groups) performed much less accurately than the English control group on the identification, discrimination and production tasks. The differences between the Hindi US group and the Hindi Ind group were very small and not significant. This indicates that the Hindi US groups’ experience with the AE and the /v/-/w/ contrast in the US was insufficient to allow for perceptual learning for the /v/-/w/ contrast.

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