The effect of word learning on the perception of non-native consonant sequences

Lisa Davidson, Jason Shaw, Tuuli Adams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Previous research in cross-language perception has shown that non-native listeners often assimilate both single phonemes and phonotactic sequences to native language categories. This study examined whether associating meaning with words containing non-native phonotactics assists listeners in distinguishing the non-native sequences from native ones. In the first experiment, American English listeners learned word-picture pairings including words that contained a phonological contrast between CC and CVC sequences, but which were not minimal pairs (e.g., [ftake], [f Schwa (phonetic symbol) talu]). In the second experiment, the word-picture pairings specifically consisted of minimal pairs (e.g., [ftake], [f Schwa (phonetic symbol) take]). Results showed that the ability to learn non-native CC was significantly improved when listeners learned minimal pairs as opposed to phonological contrast alone. Subsequent investigation of individual listeners revealed that there are both high and low performing participants, where the high performers were much more capable of learning the contrast between native and non-native words. Implications of these findings for second language lexical representations and loanword adaptation are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)3697-3709
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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