PERCEPTUAL COMPARISON OF WORD BOUNDARY SEGMENTAL CUES: ASPIRATION VS. GLOTTAL STOP
Chiu-ching Tseng / Providence University
Previous studies on word-boundary perception in English have reported a preference for the use of the prevocalic glottal stop cue (e.g., ‘seen [ʔ]ice’ vs. ‘see nice’) over word-initial aspiration cue (e.g., ‘keeps [th]alking’ vs. ‘keep s[t]alking’) both by native speakers (Nakatani & Dukes, 1977) and by L2 learners of various L1 backgrounds (Spanish: Altenberg, 2005; Japanese: Ito & Strange, 2009; French: Shoemaker, 2014; Arabic: Alammar, 2016). This study investigates how such phenomenon may apply in the case of Mandarin speakers, whose L1 uses stop aspiration, but not a glottal stop, contrastively. The question is whether their sensitivity to stop aspiration would help them use the cue in L2 word-boundary segmentation. The results showed that Mandarin speakers identified word boundaries more accurately when the stimuli had glottal stops than when they had aspiration stops. This outcome suggests that perceptual sensitivity to a particular acoustic cue in learners’ L1 does not help them to use the cue readily in L2 perception. Both L1 and L2 groups performed significantly better with the glottal stop cue than with the aspiration cue, suggesting that the glottal stop may indeed be a universally unmarked acoustic cue for use in the task.