Learning pronunciation variants in a second language: Orthographic effects

Coridun, S., Ernestus, M., & Ten Bosch, L. (2015). Learning pronunciation variants in a second language: Orthographic effects. In Scottish consortium for ICPhS 2015, M. Wolters, J. Livingstone, B. Beattie, R. Smith, M. MacMahon, J. Stuart-Smith, & J. Scobbie (Eds.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2015). Glasgow: University of Glasgow.
The present study investigated the effect of orthography on the learning and subsequent processing of pronunciation variants in a second language. Dutch learners of French learned reduced pronunciation variants that result from schwa-zero alternation in French (e.g., reduced /ʃnij/ from chenille 'caterpillar'). Half of the participants additionally learnt the words' spellings, which correspond more closely to the full variants with schwa. On the following day, participants performed an auditory lexical decision task, in which they heard half of the words in their reduced variants, and the other half in their full variants. Participants who had exclusively learnt the auditory forms performed significantly worse on full variants than participants who had also learnt the spellings. This shows that learners integrate phonological and orthographic information to process pronunciation variants. There was no difference between both groups in their performances on reduced variants, suggesting that the exposure to spelling does not impede learners' processing of these variants.
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