Perceptual Acquisition of Norwegian Close Rounded Vowels by Mandarin Chinese Learners of Norwegian
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This thesis examines the perceptual acquisition of the Norwegian close rounded vowel inventory by six Mandarin Chinese learners of Norwegian. While Mandarin Chinese only has the close rounded contrast /y/ - /u/, Norwegian has the close rounded contrasts /y/ - /ʉ/ and /ʉ/- /u/. Through perception tests of native Norwegian and native Mandarin Chinese informants, problematic areas in this acoustic space are uncovered. The six Mandarin Chinese learners show that acquisition of both contrasts is problematic. The results are discussed within the framework of Optimality Theory, following the basic mechanisms of the Gradual Learning Algorithm (Boersma et al. 2003) and the concept behind Escudero’s (2005) L2LP model. What is found is that the Mandarin Chinese learners show tendencies of what may be argued to be conscious knowledge overriding phonological knowledge in the acquisition process. Knowledge about the Mandarin Chinese’s tendency to overcompensate when faced with the new category /ʉ/ in Norwegian can aid learners and teachers in the acquisition process.