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ERIC Number: EJ864721
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 44
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 106
ISSN: ISSN-1048-9223
The Acquisition of Subset and Superset Phonotactic Knowledge in a Second Language
Trapman, Mirjam; Kager, Rene
Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, v16 n3 p178-221 2009
Can second language (L2) learners acquire a grammar that allows a subset of the structures allowed by their native grammar? This question is addressed here with respect to acquisition of phonotactics. On the assumption that the L2 initial state equals the native grammar's final state, learnability theory would predict that a lack of negative evidence for phonotactic structures that are illegal in the target language precludes acquisition of the target grammar. This prediction is tested for L1-Russian (superset) and L1-Spanish (subset) L2 learners of Dutch by means of word-likeness judgments and lexical decision experiments. Participants responded to nonwords containing consonant clusters in onsets and codas that are legal (1) only in Russian, (2) only in Russian and Dutch, or (3) in all three languages. The results converge to show that advanced L1-Russian and L1-Spanish L2 learners possess native-like phonotactic knowledge. Analysis shows that this knowledge cannot be attributed to transfer of lexical statistics from the native language. The results suggest that L2 phonotactic acquisition is not affected by subset/superset relations between the native language and target language. Some possible explanations for our findings are discussed. (Contains 33 footnotes, 11 tables, and 12 figures.)
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A