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TSC Rafat Lecture: When Our Senses Deceive Us

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Ryerson University, Arts Research Collaboratory (POD469)

341 Yonge St.

Toronto, ON M5B 2K3

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Toronto Semiotic Circle 2017-2018 Lecture Series

When Our Senses Deceive Us

The Case of Auditory-Orthographic Integration at the Onset of Acquisition in Second Language Word Learning


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.


Biography

Yasaman Rafat holds a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Toronto and is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies (Linguistics) at the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures at Western University. She works on second language speech learning, processing and reading as well as bilingualism and language attrition and change across immigrant communities living in Canada. She is currently holding a SSHRC Insight Development grant with Dr. Marc Joanisse for a project entitled "Second language speech processing, production and reading: What does orthography have to do with it?". Dr. Rafat’s co-author for this study is Ryan Stevenson, PhD Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University. Previously an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Banting postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, Dr. Stevenson is currently an assistant professor in the Brain and Mind Institute and Department of Psychology at Western University.


For more information, visit the Toronto Semiotic Circle Website

The TSC 2017-2018 lecture series is sponsored in part by the Ryerson University Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

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Ryerson University, Arts Research Collaboratory (POD469)

341 Yonge St.

Toronto, ON M5B 2K3

Canada

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