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Native English speakers learning Arabic: The influence of novel orthographic information on second language phonological acquisition


Recent research has indicated that learners exposed to second language words’ orthographic forms of words can often use this information to make inferences about the words’ phonological forms. Here we asked, do learners benefit even when the orthography is unfamiliar? We taught native English speakers minimal nonword pairs differentiated by the Arabic velar–uvular contrast (e.g., [kubu], [qubu]) and manipulated the quality of orthographic input. We found that participants were consistently unable to associate the novel phonemes with novel words. Results are discussed in terms of (a) the role of orthographic input in second language word form learning, (b) the influence of orthographic familiarity in moderating the role of orthographic input, and (c) the issue of talker variability in word learning.

Corresponding author
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE Rachel Hayes-Harb, Department of Linguistics, University of Utah, 255 South Central Campus Drive, Room 2300, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. E-mail:
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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
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