This study investigates how second language (L2) listeners match an unexpected accented form to their stored form of a word. The phonetic-to-lexical mapping for L2 as compared to L1 regional varieties was examined with early and late Italian-L2 speakers who were all L1-Australian English speakers. AXB discrimination and lexical decision tasks were conducted in both languages, using unfamiliar regional accents that minimize (near-merge) consonant contrasts maintained in their own L1-L2 accents. Results reveal that in the L2, early bilinguals’ recognition of accented variants depended on their discrimination capacity. Late bilinguals, for whom the accented variants were not represented in their L2 lexicon, instead mapped standard and accented exemplars to the same lexical representations (i.e., dual mapping: Samuel & Larraza, 2015). By comparison, both groups showed the same broad accommodation to L1 accented variants. Results suggest qualitatively different yet similarly effective phonetic-to-lexical mapping strategies both for L2 versus L1 regional accents.
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