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  • Fred Eckman (a1) and Gregory K. Iverson (a1)

We present findings of an investigation into the acquisition of the English /s/–/ʃ/ contrast by native speakers of Korean and Japanese. Both of these languages have the phones [s] and [ʃ], and both languages exhibit a pattern—or motivate a rule—whereby /s/ is realized as [ʃ] before the vowel [i] and the glide [j]—that is, high front vocoids. The crucial difference, and the focus of this study, is that in Korean [s] and [ʃ] are allophones of /s/, whereas in Japanese the two sounds arguably instantiate different phonemes. We present production data showing that the differences in the functioning of [s] and [ʃ] in the second language learner’s native language have different consequences for the acquisition patterns and the error types produced in the learning of this contrast.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Fred Eckman, Department of Linguistics, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413; e-mail:
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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
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  • EISSN: 1470-1545
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