VOT and ACquisition of Consonants in Spanish-English Bilingual Children
Humanities and Fine Arts
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mathew Gordon
Abstract: English and Spanish speakers learn different phonetic systems in their acquisition of their respective languages. Despite having the same phonemic contrast between voiced and voiceless plosives, the stop consonants of the two languages differ in voice onset time, or VOT. They also have different vowels with different formant values. We hypothesized that bilingual children exposed to both languages would display intermediate VOT for both languages. Measuring readings from lists from four children aged three to five years, we found this to be the case only for voiced stops. VOT for this group seems to collapse into three categories: strongly positive, slightly positive, and negative, to one of which all of their stop productions belong. Vowels did not appear to have a distinct, discernable pattern among bilingual children.