On syllable structure and phonological variation: The case of i-epenthesis by Brazilian Portuguese learners of English

Paul John, Walcir Cardoso


Our study employs nonword-learning tasks to examine i-epenthesis in the speech output of 53 Brazilian Portuguese learners of English. One aim is to investigate conflicting views on the syllabification of consonants in various word-medial and final contexts, where they can be parsed as either codas or onsets of empty nuclei. Another aim is to test a proposal (Authors, 2017) concerning the source of L2 phonological variation: we suggest that L2 variation is lexical rather than derivational, stemming from individual items having dual underlying representations which compete for selection at the moment of speaking. The results of a multivariate statistical analysis indicate: i) a hierarchy of difficulty in the acquisition of the stops /p k/ in different lexical locations; and ii) simultaneous development of dual representations for single lexical items.


Second Language Acquisition; Syllable Structure; Phonological Variation; Vowel Epenthesis; Nonword Learning

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5007/2175-8026.2017v70n3p169

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