"When Our Mouth Carries Two Worlds": The Case of Heritage Speakers of European Portuguese

When and Where

Friday, November 18, 2022 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Victoria College 115
Victoria College
91 Charles St. West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7


Anabela Rato


About the Presenter:
Anabela Rato is an Assistant Professor and Associate Chair of Portuguese Studies (undergraduate program) at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She is also the Chair of the Canadian Association of Teachers of Portuguese. She holds a Master in English Language, Literature and Culture, and a PhD in Language Sciences from the University of Minho, Portugal. Her research interests include heritage language phonological acquisition, second language speech learning, and experimental phonology. 

About the Presentation:
In this talk, I will provide an overview of research on the phonological acquisition of European Portuguese as a heritage language. In the first three studies, we explored the apparent advantage of early acquisition and exposure in the speech performance of German-Portuguese bilinguals in comparison with homeland speakers and advanced L2 learners (Flores, Rinke and Rato 2017;  Flores and Rato 2016; Rato et al. 2015) by examining heritage accent. In the fourth study (Rato and Machado, in press) we investigated cross-linguistic influence on heritage speech and the extent to which English-Portuguese bilinguals maintain language-specific phonetic contrasts. Therefore, we analyzed the production and perception of a shared set of phonemes which differ acoustically across the two languages. Our findings suggest that early and regular exposure to the heritage language has lasting effects on the development of an accent that is perceived by homeland speakers as native. They also point out to an intermediate patterning in heritage speakers’ accent between baseline monolingual speakers and advanced L2 learners which can be explained by individual variability. I will thus conclude with a brief discussion of directions for future research that adopt an individual-differences approach to the analysis of heritage speech.

Flores, C., and Rato, A. (2016). "Global accent in the Portuguese Speech of Heritage Returnees." Heritage Language Journal – Special Issue on Heritage Phonetics and Phonology 13(2), 161-183.
Flores, C., Rinke, E. and Rato, A. (2017). "Comparing the outcomes of early and late acquisition of European Portuguese." Heritage Language Journal 14(2), 124-149.
Rato, A., Flores C., Neves, D., and Oliveira, D. (2015). "A competência fonológica de falantes bilíngues luso-alemães." Diacrítica 29(1), 297-326.
Rato, A., and Machado, V. (In press). "Perception and production of English and Portuguese voiceless stops by heritage learners." In Rajiv Rao (ed.), The Phonetics and Phonology of Heritage Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Department of Spanish & Portuguese


91 Charles St. West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7