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Representation of second language phonology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 January 2015

University of Western Sydney, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, and Radboud University Nijmegen
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Anne Cutler, MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South, NSW 2751, Australia. E-mail:


Orthographies encode phonological information only at the level of words (chiefly, the information encoded concerns phonetic segments; in some cases, tonal information or default stress may be encoded). Of primary interest to second language (L2) learners is whether orthography can assist in clarifying L2 phonological distinctions that are particularly difficult to perceive (e.g., where one native-language phonemic category captures two L2 categories). A review of spoken-word recognition evidence suggests that orthographic information can install knowledge of such a distinction in lexical representations but that this does not affect learners’ ability to perceive the phonemic distinction in speech. Words containing the difficult phonemes become even harder for L2 listeners to recognize, because perception maps less accurately to lexical content.

Discussion Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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