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Title: Predicting relative difficulty through the acquisition of 'new' and 'similar' phonemes in second language phonology : a case study of L2 Zurich German phonology
Author: Hyde-Simon, Caroline Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2745 6091
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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The aim of this thesis is to investigate second language phonology through the question of phonological relatedness. Specifically, the study will examine whether phonological proximity between the mother tongue (Ll) and language to be acquired (L2) results in a more target-like pronunciation, or whether phonological similarity is detrimental to the acquisition process. Previous studies in L2 phonology have explored only the effect on acquisition when certain individual sounds are phonologically similar between the Ll and L2, and have concluded, in concordance with the Speech Learning Model (SLM) and Feature Assembly Model (FAH), that similarity is detrimental to the acquisition process. Ll transfer theory, however, hypothesises that similarities between whole language systems (that is, not only individual elements of those languages) will be a positive factor in second language acquisition (SLA). No previous SLA study has examined the consequences for acquisition when the Ll and L2 themselves, not only the certain individual sounds, are phonologically related (that is, the sound patterns of the Ll/L2 are related). The study described in this thesis aims to fill this gap in an investigation of the acquisition of L2 Zurich German consonants by Ll German speakers (phonologically close languages) and by Ll English speakers (phonologically distinct languages). Against a theoretical background of Ll transfer, two constraints on transfer are investigated empirically, namely language distance and markedness. L2 sounds are examined which are classified as similar/dissimilar, and marked/less marked for each Ll/L2 pair. An experimental approach is adopted, through the elicitation and recording of L2 speech, and the subsequent acoustic analysis of the phonemes. The thesis will argue that while an analysis of the individual sound level is certainly important in L2 phonological acquisition studies, it is the culmination of this level of analysis which makes an important contribution to the role of the Ll system in L2 phonological acquisition, and that this role cannot be abstracted from any such discussion. That is, the phonological proximity ofthe Ll and L2 sound systems is a significant part of successful acquisition, regardless of the similar/marked status of individual sounds.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available