Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

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

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: You mention that you're the only person who speaks to your daughter in English. I think this may be *very* relevant. My father was in the American Foreign Service and spent the first several years of his career in Germany, and so I spent the first two and a half years of my life in that country, and almost everybody I interacted with there, except for my parents, spoke to me in German, and so at that point in my life I learned German faster than English; I even used German, preferentially, when talking to my parents, even though they normally spoke to me in English.

With this in mind, if you're concerned about your daughter acquiring a `correct English pronunciation', I would strongly encourage you to expose her not only to English-language videos (that's fine, but I think more can be done) but to more actual, flesh-and-blood English-speakers that she can really interact with. At the age of 2, your daughter is much too young for you to begin worrying yet, but as she gets older I would encourage you to do what you can to encourage her to form friendships & other positive relationships with English-speakers, people who will routinely speak English with her & around her.
Reply From: Steven Schaufele      click here to access email
Date: 06-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    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (03-May-2013)
  4. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (03-May-2013)
  5. Re: Influence of L1 Syllable Structure on L2 of Two-Year-Old    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (09-May-2013)

Back to Most Recent Questions