This study investigates whether inter-language phonology is channeled by Universal Grammar constraints. While it is well attested that L2 phonological production is rarely native-like, no previous research has investigated whether L2 intuitions regarding phonotactics in the target language are similar to native intuitions. The empirical research entails a study testing English native L2 learners of French in their knowledge of two structural features: maximum consonant cluster limits in French and sonorancy assimilation at the morpheme boundary. The data show that, like the native French control group tested, intermediate and advanced learner groups recognized both well-formedness and phonotactic violations in French. The results are found to be incompatible with models based on statistical learning or markedness implications. Learners appear to possess knowledge of French phonotactics that parallels native speaker knowledge with responses patterning like those of the native speaker control group for the criteria studied. It is concluded that adult L2 knowledge reflects a high sensitivity to L2 phonological grammar.
Selected Proceedings of the 2008 Second Language Research Forum: Exploring SLA Perspectives, Positions, and Practices
edited by Matthew T. Prior, Yukiko Watanabe, and Sang-Ki Lee
Table of contents