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Effects on L1 during early acquisition of L2: Speech changes in Spanish at first English contact*


Spanish phonological development was examined in six sequential bilingual children at the point of contact with English and eight months later. We explored effects of the English vowel and consonant inventory on Spanish. Children showed a significant increase in consonant cluster accuracy and in vowel errors. These emerging sequential bilingual children showed effects of English on their first language, Spanish. Cross-linguistic transfer did not affect all properties of the phonology equally. Negative transfer may occur in specific areas where the second language is more complex, requiring reorganization of the existing system, as in the transition from the Spanish five-vowel to the English eleven-vowel system.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Christina Gildersleeve-Neumann, Speech and Hearing Sciences Department, PO Box 751, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207-0751,
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The data for this study were collected while the first author was at The University of Texas at Austin. Funding for data collection was provided to the first author by a Department of Education Leadership Training Grant (#H325D000029) awarded to Thomas Marquardt, Department of Communication Science and Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin. We would like to thank the reviewers for their helpful suggestions.

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
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  • EISSN: 1469-1841
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