The perception of language-specific phonetic categories does not guarantee accurate phonological representations in the lexicon of early bilinguals
2016, Applied Psycholinguistics, Issue 5, Pg. 1221–1251, Volume 37,
This study examines the perception and processing of the Catalan /e/–/ɛ/ and /o/–/ɔ/ vowel contrasts by 60 Spanish–Catalan bilinguals in Majorca (Spain). Results from binary forced-choice identification, AX discrimination, and lexical decision tasks show that even though these early and highly proficient bilinguals demonstrate a high accuracy in perceptual identification and discrimination tasks, they have difficulties distinguishing between words and nonwords in a lexical decision task. Spanish dominants also exhibited higher error rates than Catalan dominants in the lexical decision task. These findings provide evidence that making explicit judgments regarding whether a certain sound belongs to a phonemic category (i.e., as accomplished via identification and discrimination tasks) does not entail that listeners have an appropriate representation at the lexical level.