Distorted Perception and Production of L2-German Vowels by Adult Italian Learners

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Most contrastive descriptions of German and Italian are dominated by a phonematic perspective. They aim at determining the phonemes’ functional role and, reflecting the methodological implications of traditional Contrastive Analysis, at listing and comparing ‘common’ and ‘language-specific’ phonemes. The structural differences of the two languages’ phonemic systems and the description of articulatory and auditive characteristics should help learners to avoid mistakes related to production and perception difficulties and should thus simplify L2-acquisition. The sounds’ real – i.e. phonetic – quality is not investigated and it is not clear whether and to what extent in the articulation of native speakers, different or identical phonetic realization corresponds to so-called ‘common’ phonemes. Practical experience with L2-learners shows that lists of structural differences and phonetic transcriptions do not automatically lead to native-like German pronunciation, also because the phonetic quality of ‘common’ or ‘very similar’ phonemes, i.e. phonemes which are represented by the same IPA-symbol, can be very different. Thus the representation of German and Italian vowels with separate vowel charts in which ‘corresponding’ vowels appear at the same height is not appropriate because L2-learners are led to think that ‘corre¬sponding’ vowels are phonetically identical. The consequence is that they simply carry identical presumed L1 sounds over to L2, both at the production and the perception level. Empirical results show great phonetic differences in German vowel production and perception by German native speakers and Italian learners. The data involve articulatory and acoustic experiments on the variations in vocalic production by German native speakers and adult Italian learners of German and auditive experiments determining the relevance of quantitative and/or qualitative perception differences in the German vowel system for both groups.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospitePsycholinguistics, A Multidisciplinary Science of 2000: What Implications, What Applications?.
Numero di pagine10
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2004
EventoVIth International Congress of the International Society of Applied Psycholinguistics (ISAPL) - Caen
Durata: 28 giu 20001 lug 2000


ConvegnoVIth International Congress of the International Society of Applied Psycholinguistics (ISAPL)


  • phonetics
  • psycholinguistics


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