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Japanese co-occurrence restrictions influence second language perception



Most current models of nonnative speech perception (e.g., extended perceptual assimilation model, PAM-L2, Best & Tyler, 2007; speech learning model, Flege, 1995; native language magnet model, Kuhl, 1993) base their predictions on the native/nonnative status of individual phonetic/phonological segments. This paper demonstrates that the phonotactic properties of Japanese influence the perception of natively contrasting consonants and suggests that phonotactic influence must be formally incorporated in these models. We first propose that by extending the perceptual categories outlined in PAM-L2 to incorporate sequences of sounds, we can account for the effects of differences in native and nonnative phonotactics on nonnative and cross-language segmental perception. In addition, we test predictions based on such an extension in two perceptual experiments. In Experiment 1, Japanese listeners categorized and rated vowel–consonant–vowel strings in combinations that either obeyed or violated Japanese phonotactics. The participants categorized phonotactically illegal strings to the perceptually nearest (legal) categories. In Experiment 2, participants discriminated the same strings in AXB discrimination tests. Our results show that Japanese listeners are more accurate and have faster response times when discriminating between legal strings than between legal and illegal strings. These findings expose serious shortcomings in currently accepted nonnative perception models, which offer no framework for the influence of native language phonotactics.


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ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Alexander Kilpatrick, University of Melbourne, Babel Building University of Melbourne Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia. E-mail:


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Japanese co-occurrence restrictions influence second language perception



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