THE ACQUISITION OF MANDARIN AFFRICATES BY AMERICAN SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNERS
Chunsheng Yang/ The University of Connecticut, Alan C. L. Yu/ The University of Chicago
The acquisition of new affricate contrasts in a second language (L2) often poses difficulties for L2 learners. This study examined the perception and production of six Mandarin affricates by beginning and intermediate American L2 learners using one production and two perceptual (i.e., identification and discrimination) tasks. The results of the perceptual tasks showed that the L2 learners performed as equally well as the native speakers in the discrimination task, but did not perform as well as the native speakers in the identification task, and that the difficulty in the identification task was not consonant-specific. The results of the production task showed that the affricates produced by the L2 learners differ from those produced by the native speakers along several acoustic dimensions (center of gravity, skewness, ampRatio, and frication duration). The study concludes by discussing the complex interaction between L2 speech production and perception, as well as the roles of the L1, L2, and L2 pedagogy in shaping instructed second language acquisition.
Key words: Affricate, Mandarin, assimilation, second language acquisition, salience