Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

Michael Diercks

Reader 3

Nicole Holliday

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Rights Information

© 2019 Emelia P BensonMeyer


The present study addresses language contact processes in which the phonetic systems of the languages that bilinguals speak interact. Specifically, language transfer with respect to English and German was examined, focusing on native German speakers (L1) who learned English as a second language (L2). It employed as its central method an analysis of their vowel systems, both language-specifically and cross-linguistically. Extralinguistic variables were also considered, ranging from speakers’ age of acquisition (AOA) of English to their length of residence in an English-speaking environment to their consideration of home. Results indicated statistically significant differences between speakers’ production of /ɪ/ and /ʊ/ for English and German, following a general trend of English productions as lower and more fronted than their German counterparts. Wide variability among participants produced inconsistent results, underscoring the complexity of speakers’ vowel systems as a result of their interactions with extralinguistic variables.