Second language syllable structure: phonological government and typological universals

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University of Calgary
Second language learners commonly modify the syllable structure of their L2 words to match the syllable patterns found in their L1 words. Broselow and Finer (1991) propose a phonetically based minimal sonority distance parameter to account for their Korean subjects difficulties with English onset clusters. In contrast, Eckman and Iverson's (1993) claim that typological universals are sufficient to account for second language learner behavior. We propose a model of L2 syllabification based on a phonological minimal sonority distance parameter using derived sonority and phonological government. We argue that the acquisition of English onset clusters is linked to the acquisition of phonological contrasts and that similar to child language acquisition, a phonological contrast must first be acquired before it can be used as part of an onset cluster. This model both accounts for L2 errors and has the potential for telling us something about the mental representations of second language learners.
Linguistics, Phonology, Grammar, Comparative and general--Syllable, Second language acquisition, Typology (Linguistics), Language acquisition, English language
Archibald, J., & Vanderweide, T. (1997). Second language syllable structure: phonological government and typological universals. Calgary Working Papers in Linguistics, 19(Winter), 23-44.