People who learn two languages early in life can switch back and forth between separate sound codes for each language.
While “pa” and “ba” sounds exist in both English and Spanish, how those sounds are produced and perceived in the two languages varies subtly. In the case of “ba”, for example, English speakers typically begin to vibrate their vocal chords the moment they open their lips, while Spanish speakers begin vocal chord vibration slightly before they open their lips and produce “pa” in a manner similar to English “ba.”
As a result of those subtle differences, English-only speakers might, in some cases, confuse the “ba” and “pa” sounds they hear in Spanish.
“When most people think about differences between languages, they think they use different words and they have different grammars, but at their base, languages use different sounds,” explains Andrew Lotto, associate professor of speech, language and hearing sciences and the study’s co-author.
Full story at Futurity.
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