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Learners' Proficiency and Lexical Encoding of the Geminate/Non-geminate Contrast in Japanese
Chisato Kojima and Isabelle Darcy
30-38 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


When a sound is not in learners' first language (L1), but constitutes a phoneme in their second language, lexical representations for the sound in the second language (L2) could be much less precise than for the native language. However, Cutler et al. (2006) suggested that learners can establish separate lexical categories for the one which is not in the L1 inventory. It is a well-established linguistic fact that length distinctions in Japanese are phonemic both in vowels (e.g., koto "Japanese harp" vs. kooto "coat") and in consonants (e.g., kite "to wear" vs. kitte "postal stamp"). This study examined learners' perception and lexical encoding of the long consonants (i.e., geminate) and short consonant (i.e., singleton) in Japanese by means of a categorization and a lexical decision task in two learner groups that differ in proficiency. The combination of two different types of experiments shows that even though learners did not have difficulties discriminating the contrast, they were less accurate in lexical decision, suggesting that their encoding of the contrast is not yet target-like. However, similar to Cutler et al. (2006), we observed a specific pattern of interaction that indicates the successful lexical representation of the contrast in both learner groups.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2012 Second Language Research Forum: Building Bridges between Disciplines
edited by Ryan T. Miller, Katherine I. Martin, Chelsea M. Eddington, Ashlie Henery, Nausica Marcos Miguel, Alison M. Tseng, Alba Tuninetti, and Daniel Walter
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Printed edition: $290.00