Studies in Second Language Acquisition

Articles

THE ROLE OF NATIVE LANGUAGE PHONOLOGY IN THE PRODUCTION OF L2 CONTRASTS

Fred Eckmana1 c1 and Gregory K. Iversona1

a1 University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Abstract

We present findings of an investigation into the acquisition of the English /s/–/ʃ/ contrast by native speakers of Korean and Japanese. Both of these languages have the phones [s] and [ʃ], and both languages exhibit a pattern—or motivate a rule—whereby /s/ is realized as [ʃ] before the vowel [i] and the glide [j]—that is, high front vocoids. The crucial difference, and the focus of this study, is that in Korean [s] and [ʃ] are allophones of /s/, whereas in Japanese the two sounds arguably instantiate different phonemes. We present production data showing that the differences in the functioning of [s] and [ʃ] in the second language learner’s native language have different consequences for the acquisition patterns and the error types produced in the learning of this contrast.

(Received June 29 2011)

(Accepted October 20 2011)

(Revised November 22 2011)

Correspondence

c1 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Fred Eckman, Department of Linguistics, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413; e-mail: eckman@uwm.edu.

Footnotes

  This work was supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health 1 R01 HD046908-05. The positions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIH.

  We thank Robert Fox, Ewa Jacewicz, Jae Jung Song, and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions and comments on earlier versions of this article. Thanks also to Sue Ann Lee for assistance with collection of the Korean data. Any remaining errors are the fault of the authors.

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