Can orthography influence second language syllabic segmentation?. Japanese epenthetic vowels and French consonantal clusters

Sylvain Detey, Jean Luc Nespoulous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)


After introducing what is known about potential interactions between phonetic/phonological and orthographic representations in first (L1) and second (L2) language speech perception studies, loanword and interphonology, and literacy-related phonological awareness research, the paper describes the case of Japanese learners of French, with particular emphasis on the syllabic/moraic dimension of their interphonology development. We concentrate on French biconsonantal clusters of the Obstruent + Liquid (/r/ and /l/) and /s/ + Plosive type. Sixty-two Japanese university students in Japan perform a task of syllabic segmentation of non-words presented in three conditions: auditory, visual and synchronous audiovisual. The results suggest a possible influence of orthography on L2 syllabic representations, as the audiovisual and visual conditions trigger more epentheses than the auditory condition. Six arguments are combined to account for these results: working memory, metaphonological awareness, loanword sociophonology, phonetics versus phonology, perceptual constraints and attentional resources. In light of this preliminary study, we conclude that the orthographic factor should not be neglected in L2 speech perception studies, loanword phonology and interphonology research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-81
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jan 1



  • French
  • Interphonology
  • Japanese
  • Orthography
  • Perception
  • Syllable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this