Segmental targets versus lexical interference

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This chapter reports on a study of Anglophone adults exposed to German for the first time. Production data are examined and compared to the stimuli participants were exposed to. Data provide clear evidence of lexical influences on speech behaviour; L1 words interfere in production and provide a context for sub-lexical contextual effects at the syllabic and foot level, as well as at the segmental level. We discuss vowels and /r/-sounds in particular. Our data are consistent with claims that speech perception involves a dynamic interaction between objective properties of the speech signal, the structure of the L1 lexicon, and the L1 phonetics-phonology interface. Crucially, we show that on first exposure, learners are already sensitive to L2 sounds not part of the L1. This will serve as a basis for learning novel phones, but lexical competition clearly constrains the learning process.


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