(MORPHO) PHONOTACTIC ASPECTS IN L2 ENGLISH PLURAL LEARNING

S. Noccetti

University of Pisa (ITALY)
This paper addresses the issue of intra-personal variability in second language (L2) development, stating that non linear patterns shown by plural learning might also depend on the phonotactic structure of the L2 (English) and on the phonotactic preferences of the L1 (Italian), which derive preferred clusters in word-final position. Namely, morphological (in)accuracy might depend on phonotactics at the word level.
More specifically, the main focus will be on morphonotactics, which is the field of interaction between morphology and phonology (Dressler 1985; Dressler and Dziubalzka 2006), i.e. on the shape of morpheme combinations, when they signal morpheme boundaries in plural marking, as in ring+s /riŋ+z/.
The data on plural learning show that L2 learners omission of plural markers is the result of the reduction of word-final bi-morphemic clusters. The L2 learners, instead, generally tend to retain the bimorphemic clusters that have (rare) momomorphemic opponents in English (e.g. /ks/, /ts/, /ps/). The analysis also takes into account the Net Auditory Distance (NAD) (Dziubalska-Kołaczyk and Grzegorz Krynicki 2007) to establish the degree of markedness of the various word-final clusters, establishing that the retained elements in a cluster are those where the distance in terms of manner, place of articulation and voicing is bigger and serves better perception.