Talk: Orthographic effects on the production of stop + sibilant clusters by Brazilian speakers of English
This study examines the role of orthography in the production of plural formation in English by Brazilian Portuguese speakers, in regards to both (1) epenthesis and (2) accuracy of the final sibilant. Two orthographic patterns were examined for English nouns whose plural is pronounced as a voiceless (stop+sibilant) cluster: [ps, ts, ks]. One of the patterns presents two letters word-finally - cups, cats, marks - whereas the other one presents a consonant which is followed by the letters “es”: grapes, plates, cakes. We posited that different orthographic patterns of (stop+sibilant) sequences trigger different pronunciations for Brazilian L2 learners of English. Brazilian Portuguese also presents word-final (stop+sibilant) sequences which are related to two distinct orthographic patterns. Some few nouns in the singular present two letters word-finally – biceps, volts – or the letter ‘x’ which corresponds to [ks]: xerox. On the other hand, as a consequence of an ongoing sound change, (stop+sibilant) sequences are currently very productive in plural Brazilian Portuguese nouns: crepes, potes, cheques. A picture-naming experiment was designed to test the production of (stop+sibilant) clusters in L2 English. Results suggest that English learners tend to pronounce a vowel when the orthographic pattern is (consonant+vowel+sibilant). Results are discussed in the light of proposals which suggest that phonological and orthographic representations are activated and compete in L2 production. The role of L1 phonetic variability in second language acquisition is also addressed. Finally, some suggestions for teaching the pronunciation of plural of English nouns is presented.