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Fall 2022 Italian Studies

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The Multilingual Phonology Laboratory is primarily dedicated to two strands of research: A phonetically-driven approach to adult phonological acquisition, and the investigation of third language acquisition in adulthood.

Strand 1: Adult phonological acquisition Heading link

The study of phonology relies heavily on how phonetic information is produced and received, and phonological systems are arranged in great part by variable and gradient phonetic constraints that facilitate ease of articulation and perception. This approach blurs the lines between phonetics and phonology and recognizes the intrinsic interdependence of the two areas of study. Via laboratory-based experimental paradigms and implementation of sound statistical methods, we use data from acoustic analysis of speech production and speech perception tests to inform phonological acquisition theory, primarily within a generative framework. We examine second and third language acquisition as well as attrition, viewing these instances as pieces of a puzzle related to larger questions of linguistic representation and cognition.

Strand 2: Third language acquisition in adulthood Heading link

As evidenced within the growing body of research in the field of third language acquisition, L3/Ln language learners are distinct from adult L2 acquirers since the former possess a larger repertoire of linguistic and metalinguistic knowledge (among other factors). Our investigation of third language acquisition and bidirectional cross-linguistic influence informs ongoing debates in the field of second language acquisition and linguistic theory more generally, including central questions regarding the role of age of acquisition in a phonological system’s constitution, and the dynamic nature of cross-linguistic influence across the lifespan. We focus on the following questions:

  1. Are bilinguals (early and late) better equipped linguistically and/or cognitively than monolinguals for the task of continued acquisition?
  2. How can the investigation of L3 acquisition inform our understanding of what constitutes the initial state and beyond for language acquisition?
  3. What is the developmental path of acquisition of an L3 system, and how does this path differ from L2 development?
  4. When exposed to a third language, which existing language system does a learner transfer to the third language? Is it always a) the native language, b) the second language, c) the language that is most structurally similar to the third language, or d) a combination of both systems?
  5. How does the addition of a third sound system affect existing systems? Are early-acquired systems less vulnerable to L3 influence than late-acquired systems, and if so, why?