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Title: Phonetic and Phonological Factors in the Second Language Production of Phonemes
Author(s): Lisa Davidson
Journal Title: Language and Linguistics Compass
Volume: 5
Issue: 3
Page Range: 126-139
Publication Date: Mar-2011
Abstract: The study of second language (L2) speech production has been informed by research in a number of areas, including phonological theory, acoustic phonetics, and articulatory phonetics. A synthesis of the research in these areas is presented in this paper. First, early theories about ‘foreign accents’ that have continued to influence current research are discussed, including the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis and interlanguage. Next, we turn to the acquisition of consonants and vowels, which has been the subject of both experimental and theoretical investigations. The last section examines the acquisition of suprasegmental structure, such as syllables, phonotactics, and prosodic position. Several theories that elucidate the relative contributions of first language transfer and universal markedness are presented, such as the Markedness Differential Hypothesis and Optimality Theory. Both phonetic and phonological aspects of L2 production are considered in light of data from learners at all stages of language acquisition, from cross-language speech production studies which may reflect the initial state of language learning to proficient L2 speakers.

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The Lisa Davidson article   by Benjamin , 8-Aug-11
Hi everyone, Jennifer and Khaled bring up some very good points. I find the neutral tone of the author to be in line with the aim and scope of the Language and Linguistics Compass journal, and I was not expecting the author to necessarily argue for one model over another. Overall, I found the article to be informative, especially the discussion on Markedness Differential Hypothesis (MDH). I would say, though, that I was a bit surprised there were no tableaux offered to illustrate an example of how OT is used in L2 research.
Lisa Davidson   by Jennifer Sullivan , 14-Jul-11
Davidson's goal is to draw together research on L2 speech production (using the somewhat vague term of "foreign accent") from phonological theory, acoustic phonetics and articulatory phonetics. This is a review paper. No new experiment from the author is presented. She introduces a number of prominent hypotheses in 2nd language learning of phonetics and phonology. One of these is Interlanguage, a grammar that is neither the L1 nor the L2. Davidson argues that articulation and perception as well as phonological factors are involved in Interlanguage. However, she discusses this very little and misses an important link between this and OT accounts of L2 language development. In her actual discussion of OT accounts, she is a bit unclear of what exactly "final ranking" of constraints actually means in L1 acquisition. She also misses the opportunity to make stronger links between non-OT and OT studies of markedness in L2 acquisition. In her discussion of Flege et al's work within the Speech Learning Model, Davidson does not link the spectral results from the German, Spanish and Korean speakers clearly with the hypothesis that learners will have more difficulty with vowels that are spectrally very close to those in their L1. This article does not break much new ground but importantly includes references of recent studies on well-established topics. Davidson also shows that contrary to some existing views, it is not just a simple case of L2 perception influencing L2 articulation, but that the two influence each other. This is excellent. Davidson's discussion of the Ontogeny-Phylogeny model is very good, linking in with themes discussed elsewhere in the article. However, the low level of support found for the OPM is based on just one old study (1994). Surely more has been done since. In relation to cluster acquisition and the sonority hierarchy, Davidson argues well from the study of Korean and Japanese speakers that voicing and continuancy are important in cluster acquisition but also acknoweldges other possibilities. In relation to the discussion of phonotactics in OT, I believe Hancin-Bhatt & Bhatt's results could be an artifact of their test materials. However, they seem to concur with my initial assessment of the Japanese results. Since Japanese just has final nasals, learners may just retain the final segment even if it is sometimes not a nasal. It is understandable that they don't retain the liquid because that never occurs in coda position. Overall, there is a bias towards studies of L2 learners of English reviewed in this paper but this may be an accurate reflection of the state of the field rather than a shortcoming on the part of the author.
Commenting on Lisa Davidson   by Khaled Rifaat , 27-Jun-11
The review article titled “phonetic and phonological factors in the second language production of phonemes and phonotactics” by Lisa Davidson has provoked some thoughts. I will list them in this post and start discussing them one by one in separate comments: 1. This review seems neutral, in the sense that it doesn’t propose any hypotheses. Is it intentional by the author? Or does it reveal the state of this interdisciplinary subfield of linguistics, i.e., L2 acquisition? 2. As an extension of the first point, L2 acquisition, as many other linguistic interdisciplinary subfields, is characterized by what I may call the lack of a general theory. 3. Is the difficulty of setting an experimental design that can reliably control the many variables involved in this field the reason for the lack of conclusive general results?
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