LINGUIST List 13.921

Tue Apr 2 2002

Diss: Phonology: Larson-Hall "Lang Acquisition..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. larsonhall, Phonology: Larson-Hall "Language Acquisition by Japanese Speakers"

Message 1: Phonology: Larson-Hall "Language Acquisition by Japanese Speakers"

Date: Mon, 01 Apr 2002 20:11:47 +0000
From: larsonhall <>
Subject: Phonology: Larson-Hall "Language Acquisition by Japanese Speakers"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of Pittsburg at Oakland
Program: Department of General Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Jenifer Larson-Hall 

Dissertation Title: 
Language Acquisition by Japanese Speakers: Explaining the Why, How and
When of Adult Learners' Segmental Success

Linguistic Field: Phonology, Applied Linguistics

Subject Language: Russian, Japanese, English

Dissertation Director 1: Alan Juffs
Dissertation Director 2: DeKeyser Robert
Dissertation Director 3: Heather Goad
Dissertation Director 4: Scott Kiesling

Dissertation Abstract: 

This work grapples with several important questions in the field of
second language acquisition: Why are the results of adult language
acquisition not as uniform as those of younger learners? How do
underlying structures constrain and explain success in perceiving and
producing second-language segments? When do adult learners succeed -
what factors contribute to perception and production success? A
comprehensive review of the Critical Period for phonology in the first
chapter is followed by three studies which explore the reasons for
differential success in perceiving and producing segments in an

The first study examines predictions made by Brown's (1997) theory of
phonological interference and Flege's (1995) Speech Learning Model in
explaining the results of a perception study conducted with 30
Japanese learners of Russian in 3 skill levels. Eight Russian
segments are examined: /S (vls postalveolar fricative), Z (vd
postalveolar fricative), l, r, ts, f, mj (palatalized m), pj
(palatalized p)/. Japanese learners of all levels poorly
differentiated /r-l/ and /S-c (vls palatal fricative)/ contrasts,
while beginners also had problems with palatalized segments. The
Featural Model as elaborated here (based on Brown) accurately
predicted the problems encountered by learners, while Flege's theory
could not. These results provide evidence that learners' underlying
representations are constrained by the features contained in their L1
phonemic inventory.

A companion production study examined the same learners and sounds as
the perception study. Accuracy scores were overall quite low
(65-70%), even for native controls. However, Japanese performed more
poorly than controls on the /r-l/, /S-c/, and palatalized contrasts.
I propose two hypotheses concerning Feature Geometry architecture and
phonemic correspondence to account for improved performance by
advanced learners.

Additionally, a Deliberate Articulators Hypothesis was proposed to
account for discrepancies between perception and production abilities.
This hypothesis states that production consists of underlying
representations plus conscious articulation. Hierarchies of
articulation difficulty are proposed.

The third study replicated Flege, Takagi & Mann (1995), who stated
that experienced Japanese (EJ) speakers with a length of residence
(LOR) of 12 years or more could perform at NS levels on /r-l/
production tasks. The present study failed to replicate these
findings, in fact finding that LOR correlated negatively with
production success.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue