Voice onset time (VOT) was measured in the production of /t/ in the initial position
of 60 English words spoken by native English (NE) speakers and native Spanish (NS) speakers
who began learning English before or after the age of 21 years. The subjects rated the words for
familiarity, age of acquisition, imageability, and relatedness to word(s) in the Spanish lexicon.
The subjects in all three groups showed two well-known phonetic effects: They produced longer
VOT values in the context of high than nonhigh vowels, and longer VOT in one- than in
two-syllable words. As expected, the NS subjects who learned English prior to the age of 21
years judged the English words to be more familiar and more like a Spanish word than did the
subjects who began learning English later in life. Also, many but not all of the NS subjects
produced /t/ with shorter VOT values than did the NE subjects. However, regression
analyses showed that none of the lexical factors mentioned above or the text frequency of the 60
English words examined affected the NS subjects' VOT values. Thus, variation in the
accuracy with which NS subjects produce English /t/ must be accounted for by factors
other than the lexical status of the words in which /t/ occurs.