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Learning Allophonic Alternations in a Second Language: Phonetics, Phonology and Grammatical Change
Christine Shea and Suzanne Curtin
124-131 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Positional asymmetries are common in a number of phonological phenomena. In Spanish, the stop-approximant alternation represents one such asymmetry, whereby voiced obstruents occur phrase initially and in stressed syllable onsets and approximants occur elsewhere. The goal of this study is to examine how native English speakers of three different proficiency levels in Spanish acquire these alternations. The results show that beginner non-native speakers use stops as their output in all contexts, while more advanced learners are producing the positionally determined alternations. The authors propose that while native Spanish speakers' underlying representations are the approximants, for L2 learners, initially stops are posited as the underlying form. Specifically, the advanced learners maintain stops as their underlying form, but change their grammar to correspond to the input they receive. Learners may have surface ultimate attainment but nevertheless still have "incorrect" representations and constraint rankings as far as the target language is concerned.

Published in

Proceedings of the 8th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2006): The Banff Conference
edited by Mary Grantham O'Brien, Christine Shea, and John Archibald
Table of contents
Printed edition: $220.00