InterSpeech 2021

Leveraging the uniformity framework to examine crosslinguistic similarity for long-lag stops in spontaneous Cantonese-English bilingual speech
(3 minutes introduction)

Khia A. Johnson (University of British Columbia, Canada)
While crosslinguistic influence is widespread in bilingual speech production, it is less clear which aspects of representation are shared across languages, if any. Most prior work examines phonetically distinct yet phonologically similar sounds, for which phonetic convergence suggests a cross-language link within individuals [1]. Convergence is harder to assess when sounds are already similar, as with English and Cantonese initial long-lag stops. Here, the articulatory uniformity framework [2, 3, 4] is leveraged to assess whether bilinguals share an underlying laryngeal feature across languages, and describe the nature of cross-language links. Using the SpiCE corpus of spontaneous Cantonese-English bilingual speech [5], this paper asks whether Cantonese-English bilinguals exhibit uniform voice-onset time for long-lag stops within and across languages. Results indicate moderate patterns of uniformity within-language — replicating prior work [2, 6] — and weaker patterns across languages. The analysis, however, raises many questions, as correlations were generally lower compared to prior work, and talkers did not adhere to expected ordinal relationships by place of articulation. Talkers also retained clear differences for /t/ and /k/, despite expectations of similarity. Yet at the same time, more of the overall variation seems to derive from individual-specific differences. While many questions remain, the uniformity framework shows promise.