Multilingual acquisition and language preservation in Germany: the case of Upper and Lower Sorbian (MAG)

The goal of this project is to investigate how multilinguals acquire acoustic and articulatory representations of their nondominant language. Recent research has shown that linguistic representation is distributed in the motor cortex, where it serves as acquired speech motor plans, and in the auditory cortex, where it serves as acquired acoustic-perceptual categories. In order to properly acquire a language, learners must develop a set of acoustic and articulatory representation. Acoustic and articulatory representations play a large role in speech comprehension and speech production, as well as phonological knowledge specific to the acquired languages. Research into multilingual acquisition has indicated that both early and late bilingual learners can form novel acoustic and articualtory categories in their internalized language structure. However, multilinguals have been shown to acquire representations that do not mirror the target language or the learner's L1 and it is still unclear how their representations develop. My project examines the multilingual acquisition of German and Upper and Lower Sorbian at different stages of fluency to assess how acoustic and articulatory representation develops.

To do this, I am examining speech production using acoustic and ultrasound techniques. The aim of each of my studies is to investigate multilinguals at various stages of language acquisition to determine how similar sounds in each language emerge with distinct acoustic and articulatory representations. I am also using bio-mechanical models to simulate the movement of the tongue and jaw during speech. Bio-mechanical models give a unique interdisciplinary vantage point for the findings in this study and will provide robust insight into the articulatory representation that speakers develop during the language acquisition process. The results of this study has theoretical implications for cognitive and articulatory models of speech, and biomechanics.