Gradient and Categorical Effects in Native and Non-native Nasal-rhotic Coordination

Alexei Kochetov, Laura Colantoni, Jeffrey Steele


Languages are known to differ in their patterns of consonant-to-consonant coordination. Acquisition of a second language (L2) therefore involves learning these language-specific coordination patterns and the corresponding coarticulation and assimilation processes within and across words. This paper seeks to determine whether L2 learners of English acquire the target pattern of gradient assimilation of the nasal + rhotic sequence in English (e.g. in Rome). Electropalatographic data were obtained from nine learners of English (native speakers of French, Japanese, and Spanish) and three Canadian English controls. The results revealed that, although the learners had largely acquired the English rhotic articulation, most of them (Japanese and Spanish speakers, in particular) had not fully mastered the target C-C coordination patterns. This is consistent with findings of previous acoustic studies of L2 timing and coarticulation, highlighting the difficulty of acquiring gradient phonetic phenomena.


L2 acquisition; electropalatography; nasal assimilation; Articulatory Phonology; English; French; Japanese; Spanish

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