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The acquisition of /r/ and /l/ by Japanese learners of English: Evidence that speech production can precede speech perception

  • Amy Sheldon (a1) and Winifred Strange (a1)


This study examines the relationship between the production and perception of English /r/ and /l/ by native Japanese adults learning English in the United States. For some subjects, production of the contrast was more accurate than their perception of it, replicating and extending a previous finding reported by Goto (1971) in Japan. The difficulty in perception of the liquid contrast varied with its position in the word. Prevocalic /r/ and /l/ in consonant clusters yielded the greatest perceptual errors, while word-final liquids were accurately perceived. This pattern of errors is not predictable on the basis of contrastive phonological analysis, but might be the result of acoustic-phonetic factors. Implications for second language pedagogy are discussed.


Corresponding author

Amy Sheldon, Department of Linguistics, 142 Klaeber Court, University of Minnesota, 320 16th Avenue, S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455


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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
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