What can we learn about the first language by studying second language (L2) speech? The goal of this talk is to explore this question by analyzing data on the acquisition of segmental and prosodic features. Professor Colantoni will discuss experimental data on the acquisition of French and Spanish consonant clusters by native English speakers (Colantoni & Steele, 2006, 2008, 2009), in order to determine why some structures are particularly difficult to acquire. She will then present data from an on-going study on the acquisition of English intonation by Spanish and Mandarin speakers (Colantoni et al. 2011; Ortega-Llebaria et al. 2011), which seeks to determine the relative role of meaning vs. form in the acquisition of intonation.
Laura Colantoni is Associate Professor at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Toronto, where she is also an Associate Faculty Member in the Department of Linguistics. She received her BA in Linguistics from the University of Buenos Aires and her PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on sound change and categorization and the second language acquisition of variable phonetic parameters. She is currently preparing two books: Second Language Speech: An Introduction (with P. Escudero, & J. Steele), forthcoming in Cambridge University Press; and Perspectivas teóricas y experimentales sobre el español de la Argentina (edited with C. Rodríguez Louro), forthcoming in Iberoamericana. In recent years, she has been working on several research projects, such as "Gestural Origins of Speech Errors" (SSHRC Standard Research Grant; with Pascal van Lieshout, Jeffrey Steele and Kevin Munhall; 2009-2013), "Quantitative and Laboratory Approaches to the Study of Micro and Macro Sound Variation and Change in Spanish" (SSHRC Standard Research Grant; 2005-2009), and an experimental study on the phonetics, phonology and acquisition of obstruents-liquid clusters in French and Spanish, in collaboration with Jeffrey Steele.