A DYNAMIC LOOK AT L2 PHONOLOGICAL LEARNING: Seeking Processing Explanations for Implicational Phenomena
This study investigates whether second language (L2) phonological learning can be characterized as a gradual and systematically patterned replacement of nonnative segments by native segments in learners' speech, conforming to a two-stage implicational scale. We adopt a dynamic approach to language variation based on Gatbonton's (1975, 1978) gradual diffusion framework. Participants were 40 Quebec Francophones of different English proficiency levels who produced 80 tokens of English /o/ in eight phonetic contexts. In Analysis 1, production accuracy data are subjected to implicational scaling, with phonetic contexts ordered solely by a linguistic criterion-sonority hierarchy. In Analysis 2, the production accuracy data are similarly analyzed but with phonetic context ordering determined by psycholinguistic (processing) criteria-cross-language perceptual similarity and corpus-based estimates of lexical frequency. Results support and extend Gatbonton's framework, which indicates that L2 phonological learning progresses gradually, conforming to an implicational scale, and that perceived cross-language similarity and lexical frequency determine its course.