Acquisition of the English vowel system by Farsi and Gilaki speakers
This study investigates the acquisition of English vowels by speakers of two Iranian varieties, Gilaki and Standard Farsi in the light of two CLI theories, namely the Full Transfer and Full Transfer Potential. The argument of this study is that Gilaki-Farsi bilingual speakers should be able to demonstrate a more pronounced differentiation of both vowel duration and spectral dimensions than monolingual Farsi speakers due to a larger overlap between English and Gilaki vowel systems. The population of the study was comprised of 36 learners of English (aged 18-41): 23 individuals from Guilan province and 13 individuals from Tehran, the capital of Iran. The study consists of a production task and a background questionnaire. In addition, the Gilaki group took an attitude test for an assessment of the sociolinguistic variables connected to the status and use of Gilaki. The production task required the participants to spontaneously read 54 sentences each of which embedded one target sound in one target word. The results indicated that both groups differentiated between the lax and tense vowels by means of duration, and fundamental frequency (f1 and f2). Gilaki-Farsi speakers did not produce the target sounds more accurately than the monolingual Farsi speakers. At the same time, the results of an English proficiency task indicate a significantly higher proficiency in English in the monolingual Farsi group than the Gilaki group. Moreover, the results from the attitude test suggest that the Gilaki participants might all be dominant in Standard Farsi and perceive Gilaki as an L variety. We stipulate that the lack of significant differences between the groups can be attributed to a combination of factors: differences in proficiency, low sample size or the developmental stage of the participants (ceiling effect). Finally, the study suggests that investigations in CLI need to consider sociolinguistic factors when they include H and L varieties.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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