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Dec7-12, 11:11 AM
zoobyshoe's Avatar
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Quote Quote by jim mcnamara View Post
This is one of the reasons I tend not to post too much. It takes too darned long to find good references. I had 30 minutes. The stuff I wanted cost money to access, these are some free relevant ones:

This discusses the discontinuity of phonemic categorization in adults v small children:

The common definition of Non-native means phonemes heard after age 1:
How non-native phoneme recognition is impeded:

See slide 38:

If you look at the first 3 boxes, and if you care to google for more follow up on those terms, go for it.

If you think I'm wrong, that's fine too. I can't devote any more time to this right now.
Biological systems are plastic, but they have inherent limits. I personally believe phoneme categorical perception of previously unheard phonemes in adults to be one of those limits.
I skimmed the links and don't disagree with what they seem to be asserting. It was clear in my own learning of foreign languages that I was missing, or maybe dismissing, many sounds at first, and that has to be pointed out to you by a vigilant teacher. It takes exposure to many different native speakers to pick up on what sounds are actually part of the language and which ones are idiosyncracies of a given individual. The more remote the foreign language is from your own the more that will be true. What I disagree with is that it can't be overcome, that it's universally impossible to become fluent in a foreign language as an adult due to the accent problem. I think it's analogous to learning to paint at a later date in life: some people will never get the hang of it and others will become "fluent".