Strategies for Realization of L2-Categories

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This study focuses on the production of the English /s/-/z/ contrast by native speakers of Swedish. The strategies used by Swedes who produce this contrast successfully would seem to be of interest in two respects with reference to Flege’s Speech Learning Model (SLM). Firstly, in relation to SLM hypothesis 6 regarding the choice of features made by the L2 users to realize a contrast and secondly, regarding the results of a recent study based on the SLM which examined the “feature hypothesis”, which seems to be contradicted by the difficulty Swedes demonstrate in the production of the English /s/-/z/ contrast. 17 native speakers of Swedish were examined with regard to the strategies used in successful productions of this contrast. The results are discussed in light of a hypothesis generated by the SLM which suggests that L2 users may, in the realization of an L2 contrast, use different features or feature weights than natives do. The relative inability of native Swedes to produce the /z/ is also discussed in light of a recent study where a feature hypothesis is advanced to account for the ability of L2 learners to successfully acquire the Swedish quantity contrast.


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