Date of Award

8-1-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Chang, Soo

Abstract

Consonant gemination as a phonological feature plays a major role in the Sinhala language. The absence of true gemination in English causes perception problems for native English speakers when attempting to distinguish minimal pairs in Sinhala created by gemination. This study examined whether native English learners' difficulties in perceiving consonant gemination in Sinhala could be reduced by creating phonological awareness of it through formal training. Four native Sinhala speakers were asked to record thirty-two Sinhala minimal pairs. These recordings were used to set up the audio test instruments. Twenty-four native English speakers participated in the pre-test, a teaching/training session, and the post-test. The pre-test consisted of an AX discrimination task, where the subjects heard two stimuli (A and X) and had to decide if those two stimuli were the same or not. The 20-minute teaching/training session, which was the study's primary independent variable, was given to educate the participants about the gemination contrast in Sinhala. The same audio test was repeated as the post-test. The data analysis included descriptive statistics and a t-test for dependent samples through SPSS statistics version 20. The findings of the study showed a significant difference between the pre-test and the post-test. The data also revealed the teaching/training session to have a high level of effectiveness regarding gemination contrast. Perception of the gemination contrast had increased in the post-test, while perception of words without this contrast had decreased in accuracy, possibly as a result of hypercorrection.

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