This paper reports on a comprehensive phonetic study of American classroom learners of Russian, investigating the influence of the second language (L2) on the first language (L1). Russian and English productions of 20 learners were compared to 18 English monolingual controls focusing on the acoustics of word-initial and word-final voicing. The results demonstrate that learners’ Russian was acoustically different from their English, with shorter voice onset times (VOTs) in [−voice] stops, longer prevoicing in [+voice] stops, more [−voice] stops with short lag VOTs and more [+voice] stops with prevoicing, indicating a degree of successful L2 pronunciation learning. Crucially, learners also demonstrated an L1 phonetic change compared to monolingual English speakers. Specifically, the VOT of learners’ initial English voiceless stops was shortened, indicating assimilation with Russian, while the frequency of prevoicing in learners’ English was decreased, indicating dissimilation with Russian. Word-final, the duration of preceding vowels, stop closures, frication, and voicing during consonantal constriction all demonstrated drift towards Russian norms of word-final voicing neutralization. The study confirms that L2-driven phonetic changes in L1 are possible even in L1-immersed classroom language learners, challenging the role of reduced L1 use and highlighting the plasticity of the L1 phonetic system.
Dmitrieva, O.; Jongman, A.; Sereno, J.A. The Effect of Instructed Second Language Learning on the Acoustic Properties of First Language Speech. Languages 2020, 5, 44. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages5040044