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Subject: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old
Question: Hi, I am a Japanese mother of a two-year-old daughter. We live in Japan and she goes to a local nursery school, 8:30am to 6pm, five days a week. She does not learn English there, but I hope my daughter gets familier with English so I started to play English videos made for little children, about 1hour, about 5 days a week, since she was half a year. Now she started to repeat words heard from the videos, but I started to notice that her word pronunciation is always CVCV structured. For example, ''clock'' is like ''kurokku'' and ''fish'' is like ''fishu''. When I watch the videos with her, I always pronounce the words as they are pronounced in the video (I am near-native). And no one but me speaks to her in English, so there is no chance that she hears wrongly pronounced English words. Japanese is a CVCV structured so I understand that would occur to those who has acquired Japanese, but I wonder if two-year-olds' pronunciation has already shaped to their native languages, and will not accept second language-peculiar pronunciation (CVC). I would appreciate any comments or references I can turn to. Thank you, Mikiko Tsumura
Reply: Children tend to start with CV structures and then acquire more complex syllable structures as their first language acquisition progresses. A two-year-old English speaker will usually not have progressed much beyond CV and CVC structures, so it sounds as if your daughter is pretty much on track. Just an anecdote. When our oldest child was 35 months old he had not yet acquired initial consonant clusters but was moving in that direction. He pronounced initial /s/ + nasal (m,n) clusters as an aspirated /p/ or /t/ followed by a strongly nasalized vowels. All the features of the cluster were there; they were just redistributed to fit his level of syllable structure development. One day I snapped my fingers and said snap. He tried to snap his and said, quite clearly, "Snap." I asked him, "Can you snap your fingers?" and he tried again and said what I'll represent orthographically as "tamp," a strongly aspirated /t/ followed by a strongly nasalized vowel. Within about a month, he was saying "snap" and "smile" with clear initial clusters. I'm guessing that his assumption of CVCV structure is what led him to redistribute features as he did, till he understood that CNV clusters also existed.
Reply From: Herbert Frederic Stahlke      click here to access email
Date: 03-May-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (03-May-2013)
  2. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Robert A Papen     (03-May-2013)
  3. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (03-May-2013)
  4. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Steven Schaufele     (06-May-2013)
  5. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (09-May-2013)

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