Phonology, phonetics, or frequency: Influences on the production of non-native sequences

Lisa Davidson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article examines the influence of phonetic and phonological factors and lexical frequency on accuracy and error types in the production of non-native phonotactics. In Experiment 1, English speakers were presented with non-native word-initial consonant clusters that were varied on several phonetic dimensions. Results showed that speakers are not equally accurate on the production of different illegal sequences. An analysis of lexical frequency statistics demonstrates that the frequency of these sequences in other positions across the lexicon does not correlate with accuracy. An explanation based on phonological knowledge is posited instead. A second experiment on the investigation of the strategies used to repair the illegal clusters indicated that speakers prefer schwa insertion. While previous research has assumed that such repairs are vowel epenthesis, a detailed acoustic analysis indicates that inserted schwas are significantly different than lexical schwas. These acoustic characteristics are compatible with articulatory evidence suggesting that there is a prohibition on applying canonical English consonant cluster coordination to phonotactically illegal sequences, leading speakers to "pull apart" the consonant gestures and causing a transitional schwa to appear on the acoustic record. The ramifications of these results for the role of an abstract phonological level in production are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)104-137
    Number of pages34
    JournalJournal of Phonetics
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2006

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Speech and Hearing


    Dive into the research topics of 'Phonology, phonetics, or frequency: Influences on the production of non-native sequences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this