Advanced second language learners experience difficulties processing reduced word pronunciation variants
Words are often pronounced with fewer segments in casual conversations than in formal speech. Previous research has shown that foreign language learners and beginning second language learners experience problems processing reduced speech. We examined whether this also holds for advanced second language learners. We designed a dictation task in Dutch consisting of sentences spliced from casual conversations and an unreduced counterpart of this task, with the same sentences carefully articulated by the same speaker. Advanced second language learners of Dutch produced substantially more transcription errors for the reduced than for the unreduced sentences. These errors made the sentences incomprehensible or led to non-intended meanings. The learners often did not rely on the semantic and syntactic information in the sentence or on the subsegmental cues to overcome the reductions. Hence, advanced second language learners also appear to suffer from the reduced pronunciation variants of words that are abundant in everyday conversations.
Keywords: reduced word pronunciation variants, second language acquisition, word recognition, Dutch, casual speech, dictation task
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