A longitudinal study of the second language acquisition of a three-way stop contrast

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The goal of this paper was to document how native (L1) speakers of a language with a two-way stop contrast acquire a three-way stop contrast in a second language (L2). Mandarin presents a two-way stop contrast cued primarily by VOT, whereas Korean presents a three-way stop contrast cued jointly by VOT and the f0 of the following vowel. Mandarin and Korean stop productions from 12 L1 Mandarin novice L2 learners of Korean were subjected to acoustic analysis. Results revealed a wide variety of production patterns, suggesting that the learning of an L2 contrast may not always be predicted by cross-language acoustic correspondences. Six of the participants were recorded again both six and 12 months later. The longitudinal results showed that some learners were unable to produce the Korean contrast in a native-like way even after one year of intensive L2 instruction. Learners whose initial production strategy was consistent but incorrect fared worse after one year than learners whose productions initially exhibited more variability. These results contribute to our understanding of both the L2 acquisition of "new" and "similar" categories and also how well naïve perceptual assimilation can predict L2 production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Phonetics
Publication statusPublished - 2015 May 1
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to thank the Korean Language and Culture Center at Korea University for help in securing space and recruiting participants, and Stephanie Dickinson, Huizi Xu, and Zhili Xu from the Indiana Statistical Consulting Center for help with the statistical analyses. The author would also like to thank the following people for helpful comments over the course of this project: Mary Beckman, Kelly Berkson, Cynthia Clopper, Isabelle Darcy, Ken de Jong, Rachel Hayes-Harb, Elizabeth McCullough, and the audiences of the 32nd Second Language Research Forum and the Interspeech 2013 satellite workshop “Phonetics, Phonology and Language Contact.” This research was supported by a Targeted Investment for Excellence Fellowship from the Ohio State University Department of Linguistics , an International Affairs Grant from the Ohio State University Office of International Affairs , and a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-1024286) awarded to Mary Beckman and the author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Second language acquisition
  • Stop consonants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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