Orthographic effects on second language pronunciation and phonological awareness

Orthographic effects on second language pronunciation and phonological awareness

First Author: Dr. Bene Bassetti -- University of Warwick
Additional authors/chairs: 
Tania Cerni; Jackie Masterson; Paolo Mairano
Keywords: Orthography, Phonological awareness, Second Language, Biliteracy, Grapheme-phoneme correspondences
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The purpose was to determine whether the orthographic form of second language (L2) words affects pronunciation and phonological awareness in L2 speakers. Double consonant letters represent a long consonant in Italian (fato-fatto, [ˈfato]-[ˈfatːo]), but not in English (finish-Finnish, both [ˈfɪnɪʃ]). Double vowel letters generally represent a long vowel in English (seen, [siːn]). We predicted that Italian speakers of L2 English would produce longer consonants and vowels in L2 English words spelled with double than single letters, and reject rhymes containing the same sound spelled with single or double letter.
.
Method: Participants: Italian speakers of L2 English and English controls (both n = 30). Procedure: Participants performed a delayed word repetition task, a rhyming judgment task and a spelling task.
.
Results: Italian speakers of L2 English pronounced English consonants and vowels as longer if spelled with double than with single letters (a longer [t] in kitty than city; a longer [ɔ] in mourning than morning, both [ˈmɔːnɪŋ] in Standard British English). They also rejected rhymes containing the same sound spelled with a single or double letter (e.g. very-cherry; rule-cool). These effects were not observed for the English L1 participants.
.
Conclusions: The orthographic form of L2 words appears to have the same effects on L2 phonological awareness and L2 speech production. Some of these effects are due to first language grapheme-phoneme correspondences being incorrectly applied to second language orthographic forms. Implications for research on orthographic effects on second language phonology will be discussed.