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Toronto Semiotic Circle Lecture Series

TSC Rafat Lecture: When Our Senses Deceive Us

Dr. Yasaman Rafat

Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, Western University

Most previous studies have shown that orthographic (written) input may either promote or hinder the target-like production or correct perception of target language sounds. However, very little is known about whether orthography can also lead to perceptual illusion such as the McGurk effect in L2 speech learning. The McGurk effect is elicited by the synchronous presentation of discordant auditory (e.g., /ba/) and facial/visual cues (e.g., /ga/). The listener often integrates the auditory and visual information leading to either (a) a combination percept, such as /bga/ or (b) a fused percept such as /da/ where the syllable perceived is not contained in either the auditory or the visual information. Our study investigates whether exposure to incongruent grapheme (letter) and sound will trigger a McGurk-like effect resulting in non-target-like combination productions in naïve English-speaking learners of Spanish. For example, we examine whether exposure to the digraph which corresponds to [j] in Spanish (e.g., llo>-[pojo]) and [l] in English (e.g., -[mɛlo]) will result in a non-target-like percept and production of a combination of first language (L1) and target language sounds such as, *[lj] (e.g., *[poljo] for llo>). We discuss the results in light of the effect of digraphs, L1-phonological constraints, and phonetic/acoustic salience. We also point out the need for a comprehensive model of L2 speech learning that would treat speech learning as a multi-modal event.

This lecture was hosted in partnership with the Department of Philosophy at Ryerson University and organized by the Meaning Lab in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

A Bit About Me

Date & Time

Wed, 13 December 2017

5:00 PM – 6:30 PM EST


Ryerson University

80 Gould St.

RCC 204 (Rogers Communications Centre)

Toronto, ON M5B 2M7

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