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Title: Early linguistic experience shapes bilingual adults' hearing for phonemes in both languages
Authors: Pan, Lei
Ke, Han
Styles, Suzy J.
Keywords: Social sciences::Psychology
Issue Date: 2022
Source: Pan, L., Ke, H. & Styles, S. J. (2022). Early linguistic experience shapes bilingual adults' hearing for phonemes in both languages. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 4703-.
Project: NRF 2016-SOL002-011 
Journal: Scientific Reports 
Abstract: English and Mandarin Chinese differ in the voice onset times (VOTs) of /b/ and /p/. Hence the way bilinguals perceive these sounds may show 'tuning' to the language-specific acoustic structure of a bilingual's languages (a discrete model), or a shared representation across languages (a unitary model). We investigated whether an individual's early childhood exposure influences their model of phoneme perception across languages, in a large sample of early English-Mandarin bilingual adults in Singapore (N = 66). As preregistered, we mapped identification functions on a /b/-/p/ VOT continuum in each language. Bilingual balance was estimated using principal components analysis and entered into GLMMs of phoneme boundary and slope. VOT boundaries were earlier for English than Mandarin, and bilingual balance predicted the slope of the transition between categories across both languages: Those who heard more English from an earlier age showed steeper category boundaries than those who heard more Mandarin, suggesting early bilinguals may transfer their model for how phonemes differ from their earlier/stronger languages to later/weaker languages. We describe the transfer model of discrete phoneme representations and its implications for use of the phoneme identification task in diverse populations.
ISSN: 2045-2322
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-08557-7
Schools: School of Social Sciences 
Organisations: Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, (A*STAR),
Research Centres: Centre for Research and Development in Learning (CRADLE) 
Rights: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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