Capturing L1 influence on L2 pronunciation by simulating perceptual space using acoustic features

Shuju Shi, Chilin Shih, Jinsong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Theories of second language (L2) acquisition of phonology/phonetics/pronunciation/accent often resort to the similarity/dissimilarity between the first language (L1) and L2 sound inventories. Measuring the similarity of two speech sounds could involve many acoustic dimensions, e.g., fundamental frequency (F0), formants, duration, etc.. The measurement of the sound inventories of two languages can be further complicated by the distribution of sounds within each inventory as well as the interaction of phonology and phonetics between the two inventories. This paper attempts to propose a tentative approach to quantify similarity/dissimilarity of sound pairs between two language inventories and to incorporate phonological influence in the acoustic measures used. The language pairs studied are English and Mandarin Chinese and only their vowel inventories are considered. Mel-Frequency Cepstral Coefficients (MFCCs) are used as features, and Principle Component Analysis (PCA) is used and slightly adjusted to simulate the perceptual space. Similarity/dissimilarity of sound pairs between the language inventories are examined and potential L2 error patterns are predicted based on the proposed approach. Results showed that predicted results using the proposed approach can be well related to those by Speech Learning Model (SLM), Perceptual Assimilation Model for L2 (PAM-L2) and Native Language Magnet Model (NLM).


  • L2 acquisition
  • Speech perception
  • Speech production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Signal Processing
  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation


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