Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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The current study investigates two lexical explanations for variation in L2 production: approximate (‘fuzzy’) representations vs dual URs. The focus is on Quebec francophone (QF) production of English /θ ð/ and /h/, which a reading-aloud task shows to be highly variable. Variation is problematic for the assumption that, due to perceptual illusions, URs are inaccurate. How is accurate output generated from inaccurate URs? Approximate representations employ diacritics rather than distinctive features. Arguably, these representations do not consistently generate accurate output. Under dual URs, lexical entries contain both inaccurate URs due to initial misperceptions and accurate URs generated when learners become capable of perceiving L2 phonemes. These URs compete for selection, leading to variation. Perception findings from oddball and semantic incongruity tasks provide conflicting support for the explanations: perception is variable, as predicted under approximate representations; but typical L2→L1 substitutions are harder to detect than atypical L1→L2 substitutions, an asymmetry expected under dual URs. To resolve the contradiction, we reinterpret the latter findings as revealing an implicit strategy of corrective adjustment acquired through experience with L2 errors. While we conclude that the L2 lexicon employs approximate representations, an enduring enigma concerns the considerably higher rates of hypercorrect [h] than [θ ð].


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