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This study explores the phenomenon of language attrition (Schmid & Kooke, 2007, Celata & Cancilla, 2010; Chang, 2012; De Leeuw, Tusha & Schmid, 2017). Specifically, we investigate the acoustic properties of consonant gemination across three groups of Italian and Palestinian Arabic speakers: (1) monolinguals i.e. native speakers born and raised in either Italy or Palestine and who have lived abroad their entire life, (2) late bilinguals or first-generation immigrantsi.e. speakers who emigrated to the US during their teens, and (3) heritage speakers or second generationthe speakers was approximately 25 years old. The participants were tested using a delayed word repetition task, following Alkhudidi et al (2018). The stimuli comprised 60 bi-syllabic minimal and near- minimal pairs in either Arabic or Italian including long and short stops (e.g. for Italian, /fato/ ‘fate’ vs. /fatto/ ‘done’, for Arabic, /sadaq/ ‘he said the truth’ vs. /sad:aq/ ‘he approved’). We controlled for stress and syllabic position. Distractors were also included. The analysis consisted of manually aligning the target consonants using the Praat software (Boersma & Weenink, 2012). We extracted the mean consonant duration, and compared it statistically across the different groups using univariate ANOVAs. Our findings show significant main effects of group (monolingual/late bilingual/heritage speaker), Voicing (voiced/voiceless), and Consonant Type (singleton/geminate) on duration in both languages. We also note the existence of universal tendencies in language attrition regardless of language or cultural background, i.e. voiced and velar consonants appear more prone to attrition. Overall, our study adds to the body of work on phonological attrition by examining ongoing change in two bilingual communities living in the United States. Our findings are similar to those of similar studies conducted in Canada (Alkhudidi et al. 2018, Rafat et al 2017).
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