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INTERLANGUAGE VARIATION: THE INFLUENCE OF CONTEXTUALIZED LANGUAGE ON L2 PHONOLOGICAL PRODUCTION

Abstract

This study analyzes the production of the English /I/ in obligatory contexts by a Spanish-speaking L2 learner of English, whose phonological system does not include /I/. This study investigates how context—defined by Duranti and Goodwin (1992) as “a frame that surrounds the event being examined and provides resources for its appropriate interpretation” (p. 3)—affects a speaker’s ability to accurately produce native-like phonemes in their L2. The main research question that focuses this study is the following: How do differing levels of textual formality and degrees of contextualization affect the phonological production of the English high/front, lax vowel /I/ by a Spanish-speaking learner of English?

Contrary to Labov’s hypotheses (1966) for L1 speech, the results of the study showed that the participant was most accurate in her production of /I/ in the more vernacular register, i.e. narration, than in the more formal register, i.e. minimal pair naming. Apparently, contextual clues influenced the speakers’ pronunciation of semantically-familiar words. Future studies need to consider what psycholinguistic and reading processes are occurring that cause familiar words, out of context, to be pronounced differently than those embedded in contextualized language. The presence of contextualized language appears to prime the speaker and activate not just lexical features but also phonological components. In spite of being familiar with the semantics of the target words, the subject of the current study achieved greater phonological success when the words were contextualized. 

How to Cite

Thompson, G. L. & Brown, A. V., (2003) “INTERLANGUAGE VARIATION: THE INFLUENCE OF CONTEXTUALIZED LANGUAGE ON L2 PHONOLOGICAL PRODUCTION”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 10, p.35-50.

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Greg L. Thompson (University of Arizona)
Alan V. Brown (University of Arizona)

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