Studies in Second Language Acquisition


(Evidence from Russian and English)

Elizabeth C. Zsiga a1c1
a1 Georgetown University

This study compares patterns of consonant-to-consonant timing at word boundaries in English and Russian and investigates the roles of transfer and the emergence of linguistic universals in second language (L2) articulation. Native Russian speakers learning English and native English speakers learning Russian produced phrases in English and Russian contrasting VC#CV, VC#V, and V#CV sequences. The duration of all stop closures was measured as well as the percentage of consonant sequences in which the first consonant was audibly released. In their native language (L1), Russian speakers had a higher percentage of released final consonants than did English speakers in their L1 as well as a higher ratio of sequence-to-singleton duration. Examination of the timing patterns across different clusters revealed different articulatory strategies for the two languages. The native Russian pattern transferred to L2 English, but the native English pattern did not transfer to L2 Russian. Evidence was found for both articulatory transfer and the emergence of a default pattern of articulation, characteristic of neither L1 nor L2.

(Received September 19 2002)

c1 Address correspondence to: Elizabeth C. Zsiga, Department of Linguistics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057; e-mail: