The influence of voicing on the production of initial /s/-clusters by Brazilian learners

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This paper examines the production of English initial /s/-clusters by Brazilian learners, considering as possible variable constraints cluster length, sonority relations within the syllable, and environment, based on studies by Carlisle with Spanish learners and on Eckman’s markedness differential hypothesis (MDH) and structural conformity hypothesis (SCH). Results were inconclusive regarding the influence of cluster length, and, due to transfer of native-language voicing assimilation, universal markedness regarding voicing appeared to play a greater role in determining the frequency of syllable simplification than markedness regarding sonority, both within the syllable and in relation to the environment.Thus, the study complements previous research by demonstrating the importance of L1 transfer in determining which universals will have the greatest influence on L2 syllable production.


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