LINGUIST List 13.2872

Thu Nov 7 2002

Diss: Phonology: Abrahamsson "Acquiring L2..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. Niclas.Abrahamsson, Phonology: Abrahamsson "Acquiring L2 Syllable Margins..."

Message 1: Phonology: Abrahamsson "Acquiring L2 Syllable Margins..."

Date: Thu, 07 Nov 2002 14:32:59 +0000
From: Niclas.Abrahamsson <>
Subject: Phonology: Abrahamsson "Acquiring L2 Syllable Margins..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Stockholm University
Program: Centre for Research on Bilingualism
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Niclas Abrahamsson 

Dissertation Title: 
Acquiring L2 Syllable Margins. Studies on the simplification of onsets
and codas in interlanguage phonology

Linguistic Field: Phonology 

Dissertation Director 1: Bjorn Hammarberg 

Dissertation Abstract: 

This thesis deals with developmental, universal, grammatical, and
functional factors involved in the acquisition of L2 syllable
structure. More specifically, using speech data from Spanish and
Chinese learners of Swedish, the thesis examines the production and
development of syllable onsets and codas; that is, syllable
margins. In doing so, the present work draws on various theoretical
considerations and empirical findings from research on L1 and L2
acquisition, phonology and phonetics, language variation and language
typology. The thesis includes three empirical studies, all of which
are based on longitudinal conversational data. Study I deals with the
acquisition of word-initial /sC(C)/ onsets by one native Spanish
speaker, whereas Study II and Study III focus on the acquisition of
word-final codas by three native Chinese speakers. Study I and Study
II both showed that onset and coda length and phonetic environment are
influential factors in the production of syllable structure, while
sonority may not be as reliable a predictor of production
difficulty. Next, both Study I and Study III provide evidence of a
U-shaped rather than linear development of pronunciation
accuracy. This pattern is interpreted as an effect of initial increase
in fluency, with more focus on content and less on form. In addition,
Study III showed that L2 proficiency is related to the
epenthesis-deletion differential. An increasing ratio of
epenthesis-to-deletion is the first-order indicator of increasing L2
proficiency during early stages of acquisition, but increased
target-like production becomes the first-order indicator of
development at later stages. Finally, Study III showed that learners
are aware of potential ambiguity resulting from simplification in
different grammatical/functional categories. Codas that are essential
for the retention of semantic information are preserved through higher
accuracy rates and higher relative levels of epenthesis errors.
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