Language dominance does not always predict cross-linguistic interactions in bilingual speech production

Mark Amengual, Miquel Simonet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The present study describes the results of two experiments that analyze the effects of language dominance on Catalan/Spanish bilingual speech production. We examined the acoustics of the Catalan [a]~[ǝ] alternation (a phonological process induced by lexical stress) and of the Catalan mid vowel contrasts /e/-/ε/ and /o/-/ͻ/ (two phonemic contrasts) in the speech of Catalan- vs. Spanish-dominant early Catalan/Spanish bilinguals from Majorca (Spain). The results indicate that, contrary to the analysis of the Catalan mid vowels, stressed and unstressed Spanish and Catalan /a/ yielded no significant difference as a function of language dominance. These findings suggest that unstressed vowel reduction, a phonological process, may be relatively easier to acquire than phonemic contrasts with a low functional load (/e/-/ε/, /o/-/ͻ/), perhaps because its predictability and high frequency may attract attention and/or relieve cognitive resources, which could be conducive to phonological learning. These findings demonstrate that language dominance effects in the production of phonemic contrasts, widely researched in the literature on early bilingualism, do not guarantee the same effects on the implementation of phonological processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-872
Number of pages26
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 4 2020


  • Bilingual speech production
  • Language dominance
  • Phonemic contrasts
  • Phonological processes
  • Unstressed vowel reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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