Wed-1-10-2 The effect of language dominance on the selective attention of segments and tones in Urdu-Cantonese speakers

Yi Liu(The Hong Kong Polytechnic University) and Jinghong Ning(The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
Abstract: To perceive a second language (L2), non-native speakers not only have to focus on phonological, lexical and grammatical knowledge, but also need to develop a good mastery of L2 strategic knowledge, including selective attention and language planning. Previous research has found that non-tonal speakers are overtly attentive to segments, while tonal language speakers give more attention to tones. However, it is unclear how different dominant language speakers distribute their attention when processing both segments and tones in non-native speeches. In the current study Cantonese native speakers, Cantonese-dominants, and Urdu-dominants participated in an attention distribution experiment in Cantonese. The results show that the Urdu-dominants retain their L1 attentional strategy in the processing of Cantonese stimuli, classifying the stimuli along segments, while the Cantonese native speakers are more attentive to tones. Moreover, the Cantonese-dominants perform either in monolingual mode or bilingual mode according to different tasks, showing a perceptual flexibility in highly proficient and experienced listeners. The results reveal that language dominance plays a vital role in listeners’ attention distribution. The research also supports the ASP model and hypothesis on bilinguals, proposed by [1].
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